FOOTBALL: Moorhead scores 43-yard touchdown with 9 seconds left to stun Bemidji
BEMIDJI — Bemidji’s secondary has surrendered its share of big plays this season and Wednesday night at Chet Anderson Stadium Moorhead added one more to the list.
With the outcome in the balance, Moorhead quarterback Tyler Eidsness hit 6-foot, 4-inch wide receiver Brett Lawrence with a 43-yard touchdown pass in the final nine seconds to give the Spuds a dramatic 28-21 victory over the Lumberjacks in the final regular season game for both teams.
BHS (6-2) seemingly had victory in hand when Ben Christopher stepped in front of a Moorhead receiver at the Jacks 35 and returned the interception all the way to the Moorhead 16.
The Lumberjacks owned a 21-20 lead when Christopher made the play with two minutes to go in the game.
On the next play Wakinyan Moore scampered into the end zone for what would have been the clinching touchdown but the score was called back because of a holding penalty.
The Jacks eventually came away empty handed as a third-down pass from James Hendricks to Ryan Hirt was intercepted in the end zone and Moorhead gained new life with the ball at its 20 yard line.
Needing to go 80 yards without a time out, Eidsness and his offense went to work. With the help of a facemask penalty called against Bemidji and an effective short passing game the Spuds advanced to Bemidji’s 43 and faced a fourth-down with nine second to play.
Lawrence had been a thorn in Bemidji’s side all evening and on the final play the senior raced along the left sidelines, used his tall frame to snatch the ball over the defense at the 5-yard line and waltzed into the end zone for the winning score.
The final sequence capsulized the game as Bemidji kept shooting itself in the foot with turnovers and Moorhead turned those mistakes into points.
“We have to quit stopping ourselves on offense, we have to win the turnover battle for a change and we have to defend the pass better,” BHS coach Troy Hendricks said. “But all of those mistakes are correctible.”
Both teams scored on their initial drives. Bemidji took a 7-0 lead three minutes into the action when Tanner Boes found the end zone on a 3-yard run which capped a 77-yard march.
The Spuds responded with a 75-yard march that culminated with Jade Lawrence’s 11-yard TD run.
The 7-7 deadlock carried into the second quarter but late in the period Bemidji committed its first turnover when a Hendricks pass was picked by Nate Stitch deep in Moorhead territory.
Stitch returned the interception to the Lumberjacks 46 and eight plays later Jacob Wiedrich booted a 33-yard field goal to give the Spuds a 10-7 lead.
Bemidji handed Moorhead its next touchdown as a Hendricks fumble was recovered by Brady Andersen at the Spuds’ 26 and Anderson returned the fortunate bounce all the way to paydirt.
Defenses controlled play the rest of the half but with 1:16 to go in the second quarter Hendricks and his offense worked a 51-yard drive that was capped with Ryan Hirt’s diving catch of a 7-yard pass in the far left corner of the end zone.
Bemidji trailed 17-14 at the break but owned the momentum heading into the third quarter.
Moorhead opened the second half with a sustained drive that ended with Wiedrich’s 28-yard field goal and the visitors maintained the 20-14 edge into the final 12 minutes.
Midway through the fourth quarter, however, Bemidji regained the lead when Boes scored on a 2-yard run. Will Annette’s PAT conversion provided a 21-20 Bemidji lead and set the table for the dramatic ending.
Wednesday’s loss probably will cement a No. 3 seed for Bemidji in the Section 7-5A playoffs and a 7 p.m. home game Tuesday against No. 6 seed Duluth East.
Moorhead improved to 5-3 overall and awaits its seeding in Section 8-5A.
Moorhead 28, Bemidji 21
Moorhead7 10 3 8 - 28
Bemidji7 7 0 7 - 21
B-Boes, 3-run. PAT-Annette kick. 3:10
M-J.Lawrence, 11-run. PAT-Wiedrich kick. 7:34
M-Wiedrich, 33-FG. 3:24
M-Andersen, 74-fumble return. PAT-Wiedrich kick. 7:46
B-Hirt, 7-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Annette kick. 11:35
M-Wiedrich 28-FG. 6:38
B-Boes, 2-run. PAT-Annette kick. 4:52
M-B.Lawrence, 43-pass from Eidsness. PAT-B.Lawrence, pass from Eidsness. 11:51