Alex lead disappears against BemidjiThe Bemidji football team exploded for 31 points in the second half on Friday night as the Lumberjacks came to Citizens Field and left with a 38-23 win over Alexandria.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Bemidji football team exploded for 31 points in the second half on Friday night as the Lumberjacks came to Citizens Field and left with a 38-23 win over Alexandria.
Turnovers and special teams play helped the Cardinals take a 16-7 lead into the break. After halftime, both those areas helped lead to their undoing.
Alexandria wasn't able to put together much of anything in the third quarter to keep Bemidji from taking advantage of good field position with the wind at its back. The Lumberjacks didn't even wait until they had the ball on offense to do that. After forcing a three-and-out on Alexandria's first possession, Richard Seado caught a punt and went almost 55 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown. Alexandria still led 16-14 at that point, but it was a play that got the ball rolling for a dominant second half for Bemidji.
"It didn't seem like we ever recovered from that," head coach Mike Empting said. "Again, a lot of young kids and it takes a veteran crew to overcome when a team gains some momentum like that. It actually kind of snowballed on us after that."
The Cardinals' ensuing possession ended with a fumble on their own 32-yard line to give the ball right back to Bemidji. On the first play after the turnover, sophomore quarterback James Hendricks found a wide open Connor McNallan for a touchdown that gave the Lumberjacks their first lead.
They never trailed again after that. A McNally field goal made it 24-16 at the end of the third quarter before they scored two more times in the fourth.
Another turnover led to the first of those two scores as Nicholas Gubbels picked off Alexandria's John Vogeler early in the final frame. That set Bemidji up near the Cardinals' 30-yard line. Senior running back Brady Schmidt punched one in from inside the five a few plays later. It was the second of Schmidt's three touchdowns on the night. The last one put the finishing touches on things with 1:24 left in the game after Vogeler had connected with Riley Hvezda on a touchdown that cut Alexandria' deficit to just eight on the previous possession.
"I think it was the turnovers and all the mental stuff," senior defensive end Ted Deitz said of the second half. "Tonight, we came out for the first half and you could tell there was something special about this game. This game was going to be different than all the other ones, but the second half, I thought we kept the intensity up but mental mistakes is what killed us."
Deitz was a big part of that fast start in the opening half. He recovered a Bemidji fumble and went almost 50 yards down to the Lumberjacks' 10-yard line before he was caught. Fellow senior captain Tyler Kelly took advantage of that by punching one in a few plays later for a 7-0 lead.
The Cardinals' best drive of the night took up a big chunk of the second quarter. They used 16 plays and converted two fourth downs before Jake Bear scored to give his team a 14-7 lead. A safety followed on the ensuing kickoff as Schmidt recovered the ball near the goal line before stepping back into the end zone and going halfway down on a knee.
It was exactly the start Alexandria was looking for. But a fast start was little consolation for a disappointed Cardinals team that fell to 1-5 with the loss.
"We have the guys who are able to get the job done," Deitz said. "It's just, we got to make our reads and make plays."