LINDSTROM – After a wild, back-and-forth Section 7-5A championship game, it was only fitting that Chisago Lakes had two chances to kick the game-winning field goal Friday night.
With Bemidji clinging to a 31-29 lead, Chisago Lakes brought out Daniel Sergeant to try a 47-yard field goal with four seconds left.
His attempt was well short, but the Lumberjacks were whistled for a running into the kicker penalty with no time left on the clock.
That moved the ball five yards closer and gave the Wildcats one last chance to win the game.
On the second try, though, the snap was bad, which gave Bemidji’s Richard Seado just enough time to evade his blockers and run in to block it, ending the game.
The Lumberjacks (8-3) survived the game 31-29 and advance to their fourth straight state tournament, where they will take on rival Moorhead next Saturday at 6 p.m. in St. Cloud. The Spuds rallied to beat Sartell 35-21 in the Section 8-5A title game.
On Friday, Bemidji capitalized on four Chisago Lakes turnovers to pull off the upset of the top-seeded Wildcats (7-4).
Despite scoring the game’s first touchdown (a run by Brady Schmidt) and getting a 29-yard field goal from Connor McNallan in the second quarter, the Lumberjacks trailed 23-10 at halftime after the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the half.
But in the second half, the Jacks offense got going with some huge plays.
On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, the Wildcats fumbled the ball and BHS’s Aaron Bofferding fell on the football on Chisago Lakes 24-yard line.
When Bemidji got the ball back, Tanner Boes broke off a 23-yard run on the first Lumberjacks play from scrimmage, getting all the way down to the 1.
Schmidt put the finishing touches on the short drive with his second touchdown of the game to put BHS back within striking distance.
Neither team scored again in the third quarter, but the Lumberjacks once again struck early in the fourth, giving them their first lead since 7-0.
At the start of the fourth quarter, BHS faced a third-and-13 situation.
Jaylen Ingalls erased that in a hurry.
Lumberjacks quarterback James Hendricks found Ingalls streaking down the sideline and hit him with a perfect pass. Ingalls caught it in stride and took it to the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown, giving BHS a 24-23 lead with 11:50 to go.
Later in the quarter, BHS turned another Chisago Lakes fumble into points.
This time, the Wildcats fumbled at their own 28 but did a good job holding the Lumberjacks for three plays.
But on fourth-and-6 from the 24, Bemidji decided to go for it rather than the field goal.
This time, Hendricks scrambled and found Ingalls wide open in the corner of the end zone. That gave the Lumberjacks a 31-23 cushion with 6:25 to go.
However, the Wildcats were the section’s top seed for a reason.
The Lumberjacks couldn’t get a final stop late, as the Wildcats put together a nice offensive drive and ended up scoring with 1:09 to go when Josh Parks ran it up the gut for a 1-yard touchdown.
The Lumberjacks stuffed the Wildcats at the line of scrimmage on the two-point conversion and it remained a two-point game, 31-29, with 1:09 left.
The drama didn’t end there.
The Wildcats didn’t convert the onside kick. But with a few timeouts left, the game was far from over.
Chisago Lakes forced the Lumberjacks into a three-and-out and got the ball back with 46 seconds to go.
The Wildcats marched up the field with some nice passing from quarterback Mitch Berg, which put them in field goal range for those final dramatic game-winning attempts.
In all, the Wildcats outgained the Lumberjacks 479-312. Chisago Lakes quarterback Mitch Berg was 13-for-23 for 182 yards while Bemidji’s James Hendricks went 5-for-16 for 31 yards.
On the ground, Boes ran for 84 yards for BHS, while Hendricks went for 52 and Schmidt 48 and two touchdowns. Chisago Lakes’ Eric Brown ran for 161 yards on 11 carries and scored twice and Parks ran for 96 yards on 17 carries and also had a touchdown.
Jaylen Ingalls had 100 yards receiving for the Jacks.
Bemidji 7 3 7 14 – 31
Chisago Lakes 7 16 0 6 – 29
BHS – Schmidt 4-run (McNallan kick), 6:40
CL – Brown 59-run (Lindstrom kick), 5:11
CL – Sergeant 25-FG, 11:56
BHS – McNallan 29-FG, 7:02
CL – Brown 20-run (Lindstrom kick), 1:35
CL – Brown 9-pass from Berg (Lindstrom missed kick), 0:30
BHS – Schmidt 1-run (McNallan kick), 10:43
BHS – Ingalls 66-pass from Hendricks (McNallan kick), 11:50
BHS – Ingalls 23-pass from Hendricks (McNallan kick), 6:25
CL – Parks 2-run (PAT run no good), 1:09