Jacks roll to 39-7 victory over Grand Rapids in season opener
GRAND RAPIDS — Lightning and a confirmed tornado on the ground near Hill City delayed the start of Thursday’s season-opening game at Grand Rapids, but the weather conditions provided the only hinderance to the Lumberjacks’ attack as BHS battered the Thunderhawks 39-7.
“All in all we’re pleased with our performance,” said Jacks coach Troy Hendricks. “We still have things to work on but it was a nice way to open the season.”
The visitors made only one mistake in the first half when they fumbled the opening kickoff. Grand Rapids returned the favor two plays later, however, when a shotgun snap sailed over the head of Thunderhawks quarterback Jackson Gessell and Nik Kavanagh pounced on it at the BHS 29.
After James Hendricks lost one yard on an option run, the junior quarterback hit wide receiver Jaylen Ingalls in full stride along the sideline and Ingalls raced 72 yards for the game’s first score.
Will Annette’s conversion attempt was wide but the failed PAT proved to be inconsequential as the Lumberjacks were rolling.
On their second possession the Jacks needed only five plays to cover 53 yards. Tanner Boes set the stage with a 15-yard scamper on the drive’s opening play and two more Boes runs provided a first-and-goal at the Grand Rapids 5-yard-line.
Boes bolted into the end zone on the next play and Annette split the uprights with his conversion kick to up Bemidji’s lead to 13-0 only five minutes into the action.
The first half was played in a steady mist and Grand Rapids had difficulty adjusting to the conditions. Gessell was unable to complete a pass in the opening half and an incompletion on third down midway through the first period resulted in a punt that Annette returned to the Grand Rapids 32.
The Jacks fared better in the weather conditions and on Bemidji’s ensuing possession Hendricks capped a six-play, 32-yard drive with a 20-yard TD pass to Ingalls.
A fumbled Grand Rapids handoff which was recovered by Grant Carlson gave BHS another possession at the their own 45 and Hendricks didn’t need much time to bring the Jacks into scoring territory. On the first play of the march the junior kept on an option and raced 45 yards to the Thunderhawks’ 10.
The drive stalled at the 3-yard-line and Annette came in to boot a 20-yard field goal.
The Lumberjacks led 23-0 after 12 minutes and by the time the Bemidji offense hit the field in the second stanza the advantage would be 36-0.
Ben Christopher provided Bemidji’s first defensive touchdown of the season when he intercepted a Gessell pass and returned it 30 yards for a score. A high shotgun snap on Grand Rapids’ next possession resulted in a fourth down from inside its 5-yard-line and the Lumberjacks scored again when Robert Treuer blocked the punt and Andrew Steffes fell on it in the end zone.
Annette capped Bemidji’s scoring with 54 seconds remaining in the half when he booted a 35-yard field goal.
The Lumberjacks didn’t score in the second half but they didn’t have to. The BHS coaching staff used much of the final two quarters to give their reserves playing time and the home team was able to put a late touchdown on the board.
“For the first game I thought we did many good things,” the coach said. “We’re excited about the ‘W’ and we’re proud of the kids. We will enjoy this game for a day and then get ready for Sauk Rapids.”
Hendricks completed four of his seven passes for 110 yards and Ingalls caught three of the tosses for 100 yards and two TDs.
The Jacks gained 173 yards on the ground and leading the way was Boes with 74 yards on 15 rushes. Wakinyan Moore had 49 yards on 10 carries while Hendricks ran four times for 43 yards.
Grand Rapids managed only one completion for four yards on the night and gained 202 yards on the ground, most of them in the second half after the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Bemidji will make its home debut Sept. 6 at Chet Anderson Stadium when it hosts Sauk Rapids-Rice at 7:30 p.m.
That game will be followed by road tests at Fergus Falls and Sartell.
Bemidji 39, Grand Rapids 7
Bemidji 23 16 0 0 - 39
Grand Rapids 0 0 0 7 - 7
B-Ingalls, 72-pass from Hendricks. PAT-kick wide. 1:32
B-Boes, 5-run. PAT-Annette kick. 5:03
B-Ingalls, 20-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Annette kick. 8:17
B-Annette, 20-FG. 11:24
B-Christopher, 30-interception return. PAT-Annette kick. 0:09
B-Defense, blocked punt recovered in end zone by Steffes. PAT-kick wide. 2:40
B-Annette, 35-FG. 11:06
GR-Yurrick, 10-run. PAT-Frostholm kick. 6:42