The Bemidji Lumberjacks football team came alive Friday night, posting their second win of the season at Fergus Falls 28-16.
It lifted the Jacks to 2-3 on the season and left the Otters winless in five starts.
Bemidji will face its most demanding challenge of the year at home Friday when it hosts unbeaten Sartell, the Central Lakes leader.
The Jacks yielded an early score at Fergus, then scored twice to take the lead and widened the gap to 21-16 at halftime.
The defense took over in the second half, holding the home team scoreless while Bemidji added a final touchdown to provide breathing room.
Czar Woods had a field day, rushing 21 times for 254 yards including an 86-yard touchdown that tied the score 7-7.
Ryan Stevens took over full time for injured Mitch Hendricks and connected on seven of ten pass4s for 171 yards and three TDs.
Five of the receptions went to Ryan Rude for 113 yards and two scores and Cole Bardwell caught one for a 44-ard touchdown.
Fergus took the opening kickoff and launched a 12-play drive that covered 80 yards to score.
Fullback Lars Ronnevik went the last two and Pete Gaustad kicked the conversion .
The lead faded quickly. Bemidji's first drive ended at the Otter 13.
Its second went 86 yards on a single play as Woods broke up the middle, found no one home and rolled into the end zone.
Mike Rees' placement was true.
The Jacks halted Fergus at their 40 on the next possession and took advantage of a seven yard punt to start at their 37.
This march took two plays. Woods bolted for 49 on the first and Stevens found Rude for the final 14 to score. Rees made it 14-7.
The Otters, however, stormed back immediately to march 64 yards on a 12-play drive that ended on a scoring pass from Zach Rengel to halfback Bill Rodning on a third and long at the 28.
But the conversion kick was blocked and Bemidji held a one point lead.
It took the Jacks five plays after the kickoff to add their third touchdown.
Woods returned the kickoff 20 yards to the 30, then went up the middle again for 27 more to the Fergus 43. After two incompletions and a one yard loss. Stevens connected with Bardwell on his 43-yard touchdown toss. Rees made it 21-13.
Fergus had time to bolt 39 yards after the kickoff on two long Rengel keepers before being halted at the 21. Gaustad came on to boot a 38 yard field goal.
At the break, Bemidji had 212 ground yards and 270 overall. Fergus had 232 in the wild scoring affair.
The second half was the exact opposite as defense prevailed.
But Bemidji took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards for its final score with Stevens hitting Rude for 35 and 21 before connecting again for the final 15 and the TD. Rees added the final point.
The defense then dominated Fergus on its next two possessions to end the period.
The Jacks moved from their 31 to the Fergus 16 early in the fourth quarter where Rees' field goal sailed wide.
The defense then stopped Fergus at the Bemidji 32 and after punting the home team back deep into its territory, stymied them again at the Bemidji 28 as time expired..
Bemidji ended with a solid 272-119 ground advantage and was out passed only 176-171 though throwing only 10 times. Stevens hit seven. Rengel was 18-31 taking to the air almost exclusively in the second half..
"We took what the home team gave us," said Coach Troy Hendricks, "They jammed the line to halt our ground game and allowed the long pass which we hit on frequently."
Both teams lost key performers in the past week with Hendricks sidelined for the year with a dislocated collarbone while Fergus wide receiver and safety Nick Risbrudt went down in practice with an ACL injury.