Football: Jacks overcome early mistakes to top Sauk Rapid Rice 45-22
BEMIDJI — James Hendricks passed for 215 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another 84 yards and one score to power the Bemidji High School football team to a 45-22 victory over Sauk Rapids Friday night in Bemidji's home opener at the newly remodeled Chet Anderson Stadium.
Although dominant on both sides of the ball the Lumberjacks shot themselves in the foot more often than the coaching staff would like. Among the mistakes were four lost fumbles and a couple of defensive lapses which resulted in long gainers for Sauk Rapids through the air.
"We're a little disappointed (in the mistakes) but we still won 45-22," BHS coach Troy Hendricks said on the postgame radio show aired on KBUN. "And that shows the expectations that this team has."
The first mistake came early as a fumbled snap on Bemidji's third play stopped a promising drive at midfield. The Storm recovered at the Lumberjacks 39 and six plays later the visitors were on the board. Bobby Wittowski was credited with the touchdown after he pounced on a fumble by teammate Brandon Morrison which bounced into the end zone.
On their second march the Jacks fared much better as Hendricks directed a 66-yard drive that culminated with the first of three touchdown receptions by Ryan Hirt.
This 18-yard catch was made inside the front right pylon and after Will Annette's conversion the score was knotted at 7-7.
Sauk Rapids regained the lead a few minutes later when quarterback Tyler Bjork connected with Morrison on a 60-yard TD pass over the middle.
Once again, however, Bemidji had the answer as Hendricks found the end zone with a 2-yard plunge.
The 14-14 deadlock carried into the second period but early in the stanza the Jacks capped a 62-yard march when Tanner Boes bolted through the middle of the Storm defense on a 9-yard TD run.
The Lumberjacks could have buried the Storm in the second quarter but fumbled snaps on consecutive offensive plays resulted in turnovers and those miscues kept the visitors in the game.
"We're explosive, we know that," Hendricks said. "But we really made some costly errors and we gave up some big plays."
Following each of the second-quarter fumbles Bemidji's defense rose to the occasion. After the second fumble the Storm marched to Bemidji's 18 but the drive ended without reward when Lumberjack Larimee Martell blocked an attempted 34-yard field goal with 24 seconds to play in the half.
The Jacks recovered the block at their own 43 and Hendricks went to work with 24 seconds to go.
On the first play he hit Grant Tharaldson with a 35-yard strike and, after an incompletion, Hendricks found Hirt in the far right corner of the end zone.
The diving catch gave BHS a 28-14 lead at intermission and appeared to take the wind out of the Storm's sails.
Hirt nabbed his third TD catch of the night with 4:16 to go in the third quarter and the 7-yard catch extended the Lumberjacks lead to 35-14.
Sauk Rapids compounded its problems as Morrison fumbled the kick and Logan Hatfield recovered for BHS.
The drive stalled at the 16 but Annette came on to boot a 33-yard field goal.
An 81-yard completion which carried to the Bemidji 6-yard line set the table for a Sauk Rapids TD with 1:56 to play in the stanza but the home team answered on its first drive of the final period when Hendricks avoided a sack and connected with Wakinyan Moore on a 49-yard touchdown.
The Lumberjacks maintained control the rest of the way and eased to their second win in as many starts. Sauk Rapids fell to 0-2.
Bemidji rushed for 200 yards and Hendricks passed for 215.
Next week the Lumberjacks will begin a two-game road trip at Fergus Falls.
Sauk Rapids 14 0 8 0 - 22
Bemidji 14 14 10 7 - 45
SR-Wittowski, recovery of offensive fumble in end zone. PAT-Meyer kick. 2:27
B-Hirt, 18-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Annette kick. 6:24
SR-Morrison, 60-pass from Bjork. PAT-Meyer kick. 8:33
B-Hendricks, 3-run. PAT-Annette kick. 9:50
B-Boes, 9-run. PAT-Annette kick. 2:18
B-Hirt, 11-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Annette kick. 11:52
B-Hirt, 7-pass. PAT-Annette kick. 7:44
B-Annette, 33-FG. 8:16
SR-Bjork, 5-run. Pat-Wittowski run. 10:04
B-Moore, 49-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Annette kick. 2:30