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Bemidji High School football: Jacks spoil Central's last game with section victory

Bemidji's Jesse Eck (24) breaks free of the attempted tackle from Duluth Centrals' Luke Johannessen on a 19-yard touchdown run during the third quarter of Saturday's Section 7-4A semifinal at Chet Anderson Stadium. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji Lumberjacks rang down the curtain on a century of Duluth Central football Saturday, burying the Trojans 40-0 on the snowy Chet Anderson Stadium gridiron.

Central will close its doors next spring, sending its 788 students to either East or Denfeld in 2010.

The win will send Bemidji to the Section 7-4A title game Friday at Public Schools Stadium to battle Denfeld. It will be the first time Bemidji has faced all three Duluth schools in a single season since it completed a six-year run in 1990.

Denfeld ousted Grand Rapids 12-6 in the other semifinal Saturday.

The 40 points was the most registered by a Bemidji team since stopping Fergus Falls 49-19 in the second game of the 2006 season.

The Trojans, who shocked top-seeded Cloquet Tuesday night, were never in the game, failing to make a first down until Bemidji inserted its second unit on defense late in the third period.

It ended with four and an offense total of 70 yards, all on the ground.

Bemidji ended with 309 in a game shortened considerably by playing running time in the final period.

Czar Woods led the way, scoring three touchdowns and a two-point conversion while carrying 14 times for 135 yards, all but one carry in the opening half.

The game was played on a snow-covered field at the start that quickly melted as the game wore on.

But the sloppy footing did nothing to slow down Woods as the Bemidji front wall dominated Central from start to finish.

At halftime the visiting Trojans showed 24 yards on six possessions, all three and outs.

Bemidji took charge immediately, going 80 yards in six plays after the opening kickoff.

Mitch Hendricks found Czar Woods for a 12-yard reception and the tailback added nine more on another. On his next try he broke around end and outraced all pursuit on a 53-yard touchdown jaunt. Jon Henry's conversion sailed wide.

On its second possession, the Jacks went 64 yards on seven carries to double the score. Hendricks hit Ryan Rude for 19 and later found Will Bruestle for nine. At the 30 he lofted a ball over the Trojans defense to Rude with the flanker hauling in the ball for a touchdown. Woods ran the conversion to make it 14-0.

Carey Woods' interception and 20-yard return set the Jacks in motion on their third try and they reached the three before being repelled with Hendricks sacked at the 20 on a fourth-down pass try.

But early in the second quarter, a short punt gave the Jacks possession at the Central 47 and five plays later they scored again.

The key carry was a 27-yard keeper by Hendricks to reach the one. Woods went in from there. Mike Rees converted.

Another short punt gave Bemidji the ball at the Central 41. It took only two plays to score from there. Hendricks found Carey Woods for 26 to the 15 and brother Czar went across on the next play. Henry's extra-point try was blocked.

Two penalties set back the Jacks on their final possession before halftime.

At the break they showed 247 yards from scrimmage to the Trojans' 24.

Same story

There was no change after the intermission.

A holding call brought back a 35-yard Czar Woods touchdown and the Jacks came up a yard short of a first down at the 31.

But the defense held the Trojans again and forced a short kick to get the ball back at the 28. Jesse Eck plunged for nine and followed with a 19-yard burst for the score. Rees' kick made it 34-0.

A blocked punt followed a fumbled snap and gave Bemidji its last TD from the 10. It took four plays, the last with Eck going up the middle from the five. Henry's placement was wide.

With running time, Bemidji had the ball in the final period only once, with the reserves going three and out.

Eck ended as the second top ground gainer with 31 yards. No Trojan hit 15.

Hendricks was 6 for 9 through the air, with Rude and Carey Woods each having two grabs.

The trip to the final marked Bemidji's first shot at the section title since its lone state tournament trip under the present format in 2001.