FOOTBALL: Boes leads Bemidji to comeback victory over Sartell
SARTELL — Another slow start forced Bemidji to play catch-up once again Friday at Sartell and, as was the case last week at Fergus Falls, the Lumberjacks found a way to win in the second half.
A pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns by Tanner Boes and another by quarterback James Hendricks lifted the Jacks to a 31-24 victory over the Sabres.
Bemidji improved to 4-0 and kept pace with Brainerd in the Central Lakes North Division. The Warriors also remained unbeaten Friday when they battered St. Cloud Apollo 42-14.
BHS trailed 17-10 at intermission and did not take a lead until Hendricks scored the eventual game-winning touchdown with 1:06 to play in the game.
Earlier in the period Boes found the end zone with runs of 22 and three yards.
“We knew going in that it was going to be a dogfight,” Lumberjacks coach Troy Hendricks said on the post-game interview on KBUN radio.
“Sartell is a very proud and a very successful program. Sartell knows how to win and knows how to prepare.”
The Sabres definitely did their homework for Friday night’s contest.
After forcing BHS to punt following a three-and-out on the game’s initial series, the Sabres went 78 yards on a pass and run between quarterback Brandon Snoberger and fullback Nick Jensen on their first offensive play to grab a 7-0 lead.
On the initial play of their next series the Lumberjacks fumbled a pitch and Sartell pounced on the loose ball at the BHS 19. Bemidji’s defense stiffened, however, and Sartell had to settle for a 27-yard field goal which gave the home team a 10-0 lead four minutes into the action.
“We just weren’t playing with the type of enthusiasm and passion that we needed at the start,” Hendricks said. “We started out shaky for whatever reason. We were pressing instead of being relaxed.”
The Jacks fared better on their next offensive opportunity as they marched 65 yards in eight plays and capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run by Boes. Keying the touchdown march was a pass interference call on the Sabres when the defensive back made early contact with BHS wide receiver Ryan Hirt near the end zone.
The call gave the Jacks a first down at the Sartell 15-yard-line and, after Hendricks ran for 12 yards, Boes bolted into the end zone for the score.
The defenses controlled the second quarter but Bemidji was able to march to the Sartell 13 before stalling with 3:28 to play in the half. Will Annette, who had missed a 44-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter, fared better on this boot as he split the uprights from 30 yards out to tie the game at 10-10.
Bemidji’s defense forced a Sartell punt with 1:40 to play in the half but on the first play of the drive Hendricks was intercepted and Sartell returned the pick to the BHS 27.
The Sabres took full advantage of the defensive opportunity as quarterback Brandon Snoberger found the end zone on a 2-yard sneak with 15 seconds to play and Sartell owned a 17-10 lead at intermission.
“I thought we played well defensively in the second quarter but we made too many offensive mistakes,” Hendricks said.
Both teams were solid on defense in the third stanza and the 17-10 score carried into the final 12 minutes.
Boes, however, made his statement in the fourth quarter.
Less than two minutes into the period the senior blasted through Sartell’s defense for a 22-yard touchdown run. Will Annette’s PAT kick was wide, however, and Bemidji still trailed 17-16.
Sartell regained momentum in only two plays. After returning the kickoff to their 26 the Sabres quickly went to work. Snoberger and Jensen teamed for a 26-yard pass and Derek Stachowski went the final 48 yards for his second TD of the evening. The kick was true and Sartell led 24-16 with 9:30 to play.
But Boes and the Jacks answered once again and Boes tied the score with a 3-yard TD run and the 2-point conversion. The drive covered 79 yards and took only two minutes.
“Sartell took Tanner out of the offense in the first half but in the second half we designed some plays for him,” Hendricks said. “Tanner ran hard. The first guy never brought him down and the second guy never brought him down.
“He was just hammering it in the second half.”
With victory within reach Bemidji played its game in the final minutes. The defense forced a three-and-out and the offense took possession at the BHS 34 with 6:26 to play.
Hendricks and his offense worked the clock with a 13-yard drive that culminated with Hendricks’ 5-yard TD run with 1:06 to go.
And the defense took it from there, allowing only one Sartell first down and ending the suspense when Jaylen Ingalls knocked a fourth-down pass away from the receiver.
Hendricks completed six of his 19 passes for 92 yards but the Lumberjacks ground game contributed 340 yards. Boes had 170 of them on 21 rushes.
“This was the type of game we needed,” Hendricks said. “We needed to be pushed and we needed to see how we responded.
“Next week we’ll be looking to play a complete game,” the coach continued. “That is something we haven’t done yet.”
The Jacks return to Chet Anderson Stadium Friday for their Homecoming game against Rocori.
Bemidji 31, Sartell 24
Bemidji 7 3 0 21 - 31
Sartell 10 7 0 7 - 24
S-Jensen, 78-pass from Snoberger. PAT-kick good. 1:49
B-Boes, 3-run. PAT-Annette kick. 6:02
B-Annette, 30-FG. 8:32
S-Snoberger, 2-run, PAT-kick good. 11:45
B-Boes, 22-run. PAT-kick fail. 1:45
S-Stachowski, 48-run. PAT-kick good. 2:30
B-Boes, 3-run. PAT-Boes run. 4:24
B-Hendricks, 5-run. PAT-Annette kick. 10:54