BEMIDJI -- The Sauk Rapids-Rice High School football team secured the lead just in time Friday night, securing a 38-37 lead with a touchdown and a two point conversion with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Minutes later as the Lumberjacks started their drive to try to retake the lead, the referee signaled a storm delay from midfield.
After a delay of about 1 hour, 40 minutes, the decision was made around 11:13 p.m. Friday to suspend the game. School officials discussed whether to play the remainder of the game at a later date, but Sauk Rapids-Rice was officially awarded the 38-37 victory around midnight.
The teams were unable to find a time and/or place to finish the game without interrupting preparation for next week's games, said BHS head coach Troy Hendricks.
Bemidji had the ball on first down at its own 47 with 5:16 to play in the fourth quarter when the game was delayed.
The loss is the first of the season for the Lumberjacks, who fall to 2-1, while the Storm improve to 3-0.
The Storm outscored Bemidji by a touchdown at the end of the first half (30-23), with wide receiver Ryan Bieberdorf and running back Caleb Grant highlighting the Bemidji side of the stat sheet.
Grant opened the scoring on Bemidji’s first drive, breaking through up the middle on fourth and two for a 54-yard touchdown.
Bieberdorf scored the other two Bemidji touchdowns through the air from quarterback Jacob Beberg, once for 64 yards on third and 10, and once for 28 yards on the last drive of the half.
For the Storm, running back JD Bates found the end zone twice from short yardage, Cade Milton-Baumgardner kept for one, and the fourth came on a nine-yard pass from quarterback Milton-Baumgardner to Braden Tretter.
In the second half, the Lumberjacks wasted no time tying the game at 30-all. Grant marched the team down the field with runs of three, four, six and two-yard carries, and Bieberdorf had a deep catch for a first down before Beberg hit Matt Arel on fourth and three for a 10-yard touchdown strike.
Following a Storm turnover on downs, Bemidji got the ball back and capped a 70-yard drive with a 44-yard Caleb Grant run through several tackles to the end zone for a 37-30 Lumberjacks lead.
SR-R turned the ball over on downs once again on the ensuing drive early in the fourth quarter, but Bemidji followed suit when it couldn’t convert on fourth and short and gave the ball back to the Storm on the BHS 32.
After two first downs, Milton-Baumgardner hit Kobe Lee on a deep pass at the five yard line. Two plays later, Bates punched it in with a four-yard run, and a two-point conversion gave the Storm a 38-37 lead.
The Jacks started the next drive from their own 34 and picked up one first down before the referee called the lightning delay.
Milton-Baumgardner had 248 yards passing on 20 completions. 10 of those were to Tritter for 162 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Bates carried 19 times for 91 yards and three touchdowns.
For the Jacks, Grant put together a 188-yard, two-touchdown night on 26 carries, and Beberg was 10-for-18 through the air for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those were to Bieberdorf, who finished with seven catches for 141 yards.