Bemidji High football team rolls past Grand Rapids in playoff opener
The Section 7-4A championship game will be held at Chet Anderson Stadium 7 p.m. Friday as Bemidji lived up to its top seed by downing Grand Rapids 42-22 Saturday night in Bemidji in the section semifinals.
The Lumberjacks will face Hermantown in the section title game as the Hawks defeated Detroit Lakes 41-22 Saturday in Hermantown.
When both starting units were on the field Saturday BHS dominated both sides of the ball and rolled to a 42-0 lead. Starting in the third quarter the Jacks coaching staff inserted the reserves while Grand Rapids continued to play its top unit.
The result was 22 unanswered points which only made the final score more respectable.
Brady Schmidt paced Bemidji's attack with three touchdowns while Carey Woods scored on a 40-yard run and an 18-yard pass and Mitchell Hendricks found the end zone from 1-yard out.
While the offense was scoring almost at will the Lumberjacks defense manhandled the Grand Rapids line and continually stymied Thunderhawks quarterback Austin Pohlen.
"Our goal was to stop the quarterback," said Bemidji linebacker Brandon Larson. "And we were going to stop him by bringing pressure. The coaches put together a perfect game plan and we were able to make the quarterback uncomfortable."
"We brought six guys at the quarterback on every play," said BHS defensive coordinator Mike Fogelson. "Our plan was to condense the pocket because that forced Pohlen to get rid of the ball quickly which is something he didn't want to do. His strength is to create plays with his feet, whether running or passing, and we wanted to get him scrambling."
The Jacks offense spotted the defense an early cushion as Bemidji went 68 yards on nine plays on the game's opening drive.
On the second play of the march Hendricks threw a bomb to Woods but the pass was just a bit long and fell incomplete.
Later in the drive, however, the bomb worked as Woods caught a 38-yard pass along the right sideline and eventually was forced out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
Hendricks capped the drive two plays later with a quarterback keeper and the Jacks were ahead to stay.
Bemidji's defense did its job on the next series, allowing only one first down before forcing the punt. The offense took over at the BHS 24 and on the third play of the drive Cody Rutledge provided a first down at the Grand Rapids 45 with a 30-yard gain on a screen pass.
Woods put the finishing touch on the TD march when he raced along the right sideline 40 yards for the score.
The trend continued in the second quarter as the Bemidji defense continually attacked and the offense found ways to score.
A blocked punt early in the second period gave the Lumberjacks possession at the Thunderhawks 36 and two plays later Schmidt squirted through a gap in the line and bolted 33 yards for the touchdown.
Schmidt collected his second TD of the evening four minutes later with a 2-yard run and Henndricks teamed with Woods on an 18-yard scoring pass with four minutes to play in the stanza.
At intermission Bemidji enjoyed a 35-0 lead and the game was over. Schmidt's third TD of the night, this one on a 30-yard run three minutes into the third quarter, iced the victory.
"I'm pleased with the way the entire game went," said BHS coach Troy Hendricks. "Offensively we moved the ball well and defensively we did what we've been doing all year. I'm proud of these kids."
Friday's section final will match two teams sporting 9-0 records. A year ago Bemidji hosted Hermantown in the 7-4A semifinals and coasted to a 34-6 victory.
"We got the job done Saturday (against Grand Rapids) and now we move forward and look ahead to Hermantown," Hendricks said.
Grand Rapids 0 0 7 15 - 22
Bemidji 14 21 7 0 - 42
Bem-Hendricks, 1-run. PAT-Fodness kick. 3:17
Bem-Woods, 40-run. PAT-Fodness kick. 7:34
Bem-Schmidt, 33-run. PAT-Fodness kick. 1:36
Bem-Schmidt, 2-run. PAT-Fodness kick. 5:13
Bem-Woods, 18-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Fodness kick. 7:52
Bem-Schmidt, 30-run. PAT-Fodness kick. 3:05
GR-Wunderlich, 48-pass from Pohlen. PAT-Becker kick. 8:53
GR-Wegberg, 65-pass from Pohlen. PAT-Becker kick. 1:30
GR-Pohlen, 5-run. PAT-Vaneps pass from Pohlen. 5:56