MINNEAPOLIS - Four turnovers by Bemidji - two fumbles and two interceptions - proved to be too costly as the Lumberjacks dropped today's Class 4A football title matchup 17-10 to Rocori High School.
The Lumberjacks had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but a pass on fourth down and 14 fell to the Metrodome turf.
The teams traded field goals in the second half, but the difference proved to be a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown - the third first-half turnover by the Lumberjacks - to give the Rocori Spartans a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Turnovers stifled two other Lumberjack drives in the first half and another in the second half as Bemidji dropped it's first game of the year and lost out on a chance to capture the high school's first football championship since Minnesota incorporated a playoff system.
The Rocori Spartans finished 12-1 and won its first football championship. Both teams were making their fifth state playoff appearance.
Bemidji (12-1) jumped to a quick lead after Mitchell Hendricks tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Carey Woods in the first quarter. Rocori tied the game with a 27-yard passing play at 8:02 of the second quarter. The interception return for a touchdown propelled the Spartans to the lead with 50 seconds remaining in the half.
The Lumberjacks defense came up with a decisive stop late in the quarter, forcing a Rocori punt. Bemidji started deep in its territory but was driving when the Spartans' Sean Terres picked off a Hendricks pass and scampered to the end zone.
Check Sunday's edition of The Pioneer for more game coverage.