MOORHEAD – Last year the Bemidji football team advanced to the final game of the state Class 4A tournament. Moorhead also was a state participant, claiming the Section 8-5A title.
Friday at Moorhead the two northern Minnesota powers clashed and, to no one’s surprise, the outcome was not decided until the final play.
Trailing 34-30 with 10 seconds on the clock Lumberjacks quarterback James Hendricks connected with Jaylen Ingalls for a 17-yard touchdown strike.
But the joy of an apparent victory was dashed when BHS was called for a holding penalty.
On the next play Hendricks was sacked and Moorhead could officially celebrate its 34-30 victory.
Judging by Friday’s outcome Bemidji probably is the better team but Moorhead has the best player. Chase Morlock ran 25 times for 214 yards, caught four passes for 60 yards and scored four of the Spuds’ five touchdowns.
At times, including the decisive drive late in the fourth quarter, the senior was. Trailing 30-27 in the final minutes Moorhead took possession at its own 35 and Morlock went to work one last time.
On the first play he gained 15 yards and two more runs gave the Spuds a third-and-1 at the Jacks 41. Morlock then caught a 32-yard pass to set up a first-and-goal situation and two runs later the Spuds were on top with 38 seconds to play.
Bemidji started its final drive at its 37 and, with the help of Hendricks’ scramble and a late hit, advanced to the 17 yard line with 10 seconds remaining. But the holding call negated a touchdown and the sack ended the game.
“It was a matter of who had the ball at the end might win the game and unfortunately we came up a little short,” said BHS coach Troy Hendricks. “The boys are angry (about the loss) but it was a fun football game to play. We learned a lot about our football team. We will look at what we did right and at what we did wrong and make adjustments.”
Among the things BHS did right was receiving the kickoffs.
Richard Seado took the opening kickoff at the 12 yard line, followed the wedge blocking and raced 88 yards for the game’s first score.
William Annette booted the conversion and 14 seconds into the action Bemidji was on top 7-0.
Morlock and the Spuds quickly answered, however. Morlock ran three times and caught a pass during Moorhead’s initial series and those contributions fueled a 64-yard march which culminated with his 39-yard touchdown run.
BHS blocked the attempted PAT kick by Daniel Sanchez and owned a 7-6 advantage 2:30 into the game.
A short kick gave the Lumberjacks possession at their 28 to start the next drive and the march culminated with Annette’s 31-yard field goal.
Keying the drive were an 18-yard pitch and run by Jaylen Ingalls and Alex Fenson’s 20-yard reception.
The Jacks advanced to the 3-yard line before a high snap on third down lost eight yards and forced Bemidji to settle for Annette’s field goal.
The back-and-forth scoring continued on the next drive as the Spuds went 7-6 yards in 10 plays. Once again, Morlock was the main weapon and he culminated the drive with an 11-yard run.
Hoping to slow Bemidji’s kickoff return team, Moorhead opted for a squib kick but the tactic backfired when Sam Bruestle grabbed it at the BHS 46 and ran untouched 54 yards for the touchdown.
Annette’s PAT was true once again and Bemidji regained the lead at 17-13.
But the home team responded once again, this time with a 70-yard march that featured an 11-yard TD pass from Aaron Lein to Brandon Porter. Sanchez’ kick was true and Moorhead owned a 20-17 advantage.
With 1:42 remaining in the half the Spuds committed the lone turnover of the half. Troy Sauceda intercepted a Lein pass and returned it to the Moorhead 39.
The Jacks needed only 1:13 to find the end zone as quarterback James Henrdricks ran in from the 6-yard line with 29 seconds to play.
The PAT was blocked and Bemidji held a 23-20 edge at intermission.
Neither team scored in the third quarter but Moorhead outscored the Jacks 14-7 in the final 12 minutes to claim the victory.
Bemidji returns to the road next week, heading to Duluth on Friday to take on Denfeld in a 6 p.m. game.
Bemidji10 13 0 7 - 30
Moorhead 6 14 0 14 - 34
B-Seado, 88-kickoff. PAT - Annette kick. 0:14
M-Morlock, 39-run. PAT – kick fail. 2:30
B-Annette, 31-FG. 7:50
M-Morlock, 11-run. PAT - Sanchez kick. 0:11
B-Bruestle, 54-kickoff return. PAT – Annette kick. 0:21
M-Porter, 11-pass from Lien. PAT – Sanchez kick. 6:47
B-Hendricks, 6-run. PAT – kick blocked. 11:31
M-Morlock, 2-run. PAT – Sanchez kick. 2:51
B-Schmidt, 77-run. PAT-Annette kick. 4:59
M-Morlock, 1-run. PAT-Sanchez kick. 11:21