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Bemidji's Chase Gruber, center, teams up with Ernie Heifort, left, Forrest Moe, 23, and Brandon Larson, back right, to tackle Fergus Falls' Harvey McMahan during the first half of Friday night's game at Chet Anderson Stadium. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji HS football team's defense leads the way in win over Fergus Falls

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The Bemidji High School football team proved to be good "mudders" Friday night as the Lumberjacks dominated Fergus Falls 35-6 in the rain at Chet Anderson Stadium.

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The defense set the tone the entire evening as the starters did not yield a first down to the Otters offense. The Lumberjacks' attack fared much better, scoring 35 points despite seeing numerous drives hampered by procedure and delay of game penalties.

"We have to become more football smart and play with more mental toughness," said Jacks coach Troy Hendricks. "We need to eliminate the penalties and turnovers."

Even though the Lumberjacks were unable to eliminate the mistakes Friday, they were able to overcome them.

"Our defense played sound football like I thought we could," the coach said. "Offensively we maintained our composure."

A turnover in the final minute of the opening half led to the lone Otter score, a 5-yard run 10 seconds before intermission. That touchdown drew the visitors within 14-6 at the break.

"Fergus Falls (0-2) kept fighting and scored at the end of the first half. Offensively we had to take the sting out of them in the second half and we did that," Hendricks said.

Bemidji promptly regained control in the third quarter as quarterback Mitchell Hendricks connected with Ben Hengel on a 39-yard TD pass 3:41 into the stanza. Jon Henry booted the conversion and the Jacks had regained the momentum and a 21-6 advantage.

With the defense limiting Fergus Falls to three plays and a punt per possession the BHS offense continued to attack. Zach Declusin's 13-yard run six seconds into the fourth quarter upped the cushion to 28-6 and Jesse Eck capped the scoring eight minutes later when he bulled in from two yards out.

As they did last week against Moorhead the Lumberjacks won the opening toss and deferred. And as it did against the Spuds, the defense forced a punt into the stiff wind off Lake Bemidji and gave the offense fine field position at the Bemidji 44.

Although the Jacks didn't score on their opening possession they did find the end zone after the defense duplicated its 3-and-out.

Starting at the 40 Hendricks orchestrated a 60-yard drive which included his 23-yard sweep around the right end. The march could have stalled deep in Fergus Falls territory but the Jacks converted a fourth-and-2 at the 17.

Declusin did the honors as he bolted up the middle for 15 yards and a first-and-goal. Declusin went inside on the next play for the touchdown.

A fumbled snap resulted in a mixed extra point and BHS settled for a 6-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter the offense generated another lengthy drive, this one into wind. The 80-yard march included a 16-yard catch by Hengel on a fourth-and-9 from the Otter 19.

A few plays later Hendricks ran around the left end for the touchdown on a fourth-and-goal at the 4-yard line.

Will Bruestle caught Hendricks' pass for the PAT.

Bemidji appeared poised to add another touchdown late in the half but an ill-advised pass by Hendricks was intercepted by Harvey McMahon at the Otter 30 and he rumbled along the left sideline to the Lumberjacks 6-yard line.

The Jacks defense denied the Otters on a pair of rushes but on third down McMahon blasted through the middle for the score.

The touchdown proved to be Fergus Falls' only score of the night. Friday's victory was Bemidji's second in as many outings.

Bemidji will play its first road game Friday at St. Cloud Apollo.

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Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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