FOOTBALL: Bemidji hangs on to top Alexandria 35-34
BEMIDJI — During the drills prior to Friday’s football game at Chet Anderson Stadium between Bemidji and Alexandria, Lumberjacks defensive coordinator Mike Fogelson gazed at the flag, extended to its maximum because of a 30 mile per hour wind off Lake Bemidji, and glanced to a sky which showed patches of blue.
“We can play in the wind,” Fogelson said. “We can deal with that. But what we don’t want is the rain. Let’s hope that the rain will hold off.”
For two quarters Fogelson’s request was granted. The wind did blow off Lake Bemidji but the rain stayed away.
Once the second half started, however, the weather changed and by the beginning of the fourth quarter the officials were forced to suspend play because of lightning and what felt like hurricane conditions.
When play resumed after a 40-minute delay, both teams struggled at times but both teams also took advantage of their opportunities. And when the game finally ended after more than three hours on the field and in a shelter, Bemidji escaped with a 35-34 win.
BHS led most of the way but the Cardinals took a 34-28 advantage with 8:22 to go on an 8-yard pass.
The Jacks responded on their next drive, however, and a 13-yard TD pass from James Hendricks to Ryan Hirt with 4:15 to play tied the game. Will Annette, who had missed three extra points and a 23-yard field goal try earlier in the contest, booted the PAT to provide the eventual game-winning point.
Moving into the teeth of a steady gale in the first quarter, Bemidji used the ground game and the occasional pass to score on its opening drive. Keying the 80-yard march were Wakinyan Moore’s 13-yard scamper and Tanner Boes’ 14-yard run after snatching a pitch from Hendricks.
Boes added the finishing touch as he bolted through the line from two yards out to give BHS a 7-0 lead.
Bemidji’s next drive was stopped by an interception and Alexandria took over at the Jacks 38. The abbreviated drive ended on the final play of the period when Cardinal quarterback John Vogeler found the end zone with a 38-yard scramble.
Alexandria kicked the conversion and the first quarter ended in a 7-7 tie.
Bemidji drove to Alexandria’s 6-yard line on its next possession but the Jacks came away empty handed when Annette’s 23-yard field goal try was wide.
The defense bailed out the offense, however, as Moore blocked a Cardinal punt and Sam Bruestle ran it in for the touchdown.
The PAT kick was blocked, however, and BHS settled for a 13-7 advantage.
Bemidji stretched the lead to 20-7 with 2:22 to play in the half when Hendricks scored on a 3-yard keeper but Alexandria answered with a 65-yard march that culminated with Vogeler’s 4-yard run with 27 seconds to play.
At intermission BHS led 20-13 but the fireworks were yet to start.
In the third quarter the wind grew in intensity and continually shifted. Midway through the stanza the fans scurried for shelter because of the downpour, but, despite the horrendous weather, both teams managed to score a touchdown.
At the start of the fourth quarter Bemidji registered a safety when Ethan Apel sacked Vogeler in the end zone. Following the free kick into the end zone and Bemidji’s lost fumble on the first play of the new possession, the conditions became unplayable and the players dashed for shelter.
After play resumed the Cardinals quickly scored to draw within 28-26 and, following another Jacks fumble, Alexandria struck again. That TD gave the visitors a 34-28 lead with 8:22 to play.
The situation became even worse on the first play of Bemidji’s ensuing drive as a high snap sailed toward the end zone. Annette was able to recover the potential turnover at the 1-yard line to avoid the safety and on the next play Hendricks and Hirt teamed for a 20-yard passing play.
A roughing the passer call added 15 yards to the play and Bemidji was out of trouble.
With Boes and Hendricks sharing the running duties the Lumberjacks worked a third-and-6 at the Cardinals 13 and on the next play Hendricks found Hirt for the game-winning score.
The visitors had one last spurt as Vogeler led the Cardinals to Bemidji’s 12 with 30 seconds to play. Their opportunity fizzled, however, when Alexandria fumbled a handoff and the Jacks recovered.
Hendricks completed nine of his 13 passes for 160 yards and the two touchdowns to Hirt.
The Jacks also had 276 yards on the ground, paced by Boes’ 158 yards on 22 rushes.
Bemidji 35, Alexandria 34
Alexandria 7 6 7 14 - 34
Bemidji 7 13 6 9 - 35
B-Boes, 2-run. PAT-Annette kick. 4:16
A-Vogeler, 38-run. PAT. Kuhn kick. 12:00
B-Bruestle, return of blocked punt. PAT-kick blocked. 2:44
B-Hendricks, 3-run. PAT-Annette kick. 7:38
A-Vogeler, 7-run. PAT-kick wide. 11:33
A-Vogeler, 1-run. PAT-Kuhn kick. 5:56
B-Hirt, 13-pass from Hendricks. PAT-kick wide. 6:51
B-Safety, Apel sack Vogeler in end zone. 1:04
A-20-yard run. PAT-run fail. 1:19
A-Krivanek, 8-pass from Vogeler. PAT-run good. 3:38
B-Hirt, 13-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Annette kick. 7:45