BEMIDJI — Gemini Ellis ran for 157 yards against Brainerd and Babe’s Bell will stay in Bemidji Friday, Sept. 24.
Ellis’ largest run was a 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to make it 16-6 Lumberjacks.
“He did a nice job of hitting the hole,” Bemidji head coach Bryan Stoffel said. “You saw his big-play ability when he busted that one and he’s a special football player.”
After Bemidji added a field goal, the Lumberjacks beat their rival Brainerd for a fourth straight year 19-6 at Chet Anderson Stadium on the campus of Bemidji State University.
Ellis’ big run was set up by a punt gone bad for the Lumberjacks but the punter was able to pick up the first down with his legs.
“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way,” Warriors head coach Jason Freed said. “There was a lot of times that the ball didn’t bounce our way or there was a miscue on a punt. … Sometimes it becomes a collection of errors and tonight’s game came down to about three or four plays and (Bemidji) made its plays.”
Bemidji’s defense held Brainerd to negative 17 yards rushing as the Warriors offense struggled to sustain drives.
“It’s just about block sustain,” Freed said. “Both in the run game and in pass protection. We just haven’t gotten consistency there and we will have to figure that out. Everything that went wrong is fixable.”
The Warriors defense was on the field for 67 plays, but was able to stop Bemidji on fourth down multiple times to keep Brainerd in the game.
“Defensively, we are really maturing,” Freed said. “They just don’t quit and that’s what I love about them.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Bemidji got on the board first with a 25-yard field goal by Tavin Peterson with 3:26 left in the first half.
Brainerd’s ensuing possession went 3-and-out and on the punt the snap went over Staehling’s head with Bemidji taking over at the Warrior 5-yard line.
It took one play for the Lumberjacks to capitalize on the miscue and quarterback Jack Larson ran it in from 5 yards out to make it 10-0 Lumberjacks with 1:57 left in the first half.
On the touchdown, Larson got an unsportsmanlike penalty, which put the Warriors in good field position after the kickoff.
A 40-yard completion from Marcello Getty to Eli Hoelz, Brainerd's first big play of the game, set up the Warriors with first and goal from the 5-yard line. Staehling was able to ram it in the end zone two plays later from 1 yard out to make it 10-6 Bemidji at the half.
Bemidji out-gained Brainerd 125-50 in the first half. The Warriors had negative 6 yards rushing in the first half mostly due to the bad snap on the punt, which was a loss of 25 yards.
“I am so proud of those kids on defense,” Bemidji’s Stoffel said. “Especially our defensive coordinator. He’s done a great job this year and I thought our seniors stepped up tonight.”
Hoelz led the Warriors in receiving with five catches for 124 yards including a 65-yard completion with Getty in the second half.
Getty finished with 175 yards passing and two interceptions.
Brainerd returns home Friday, Oct. 1, against Alexandria.
“It’ll be good to be back home,” Freed said.
Brainerd 0 6 0 0 — 6
Bemidji 0 10 9 0 — 19
Bem-Tavin Peterson 25-yard field goal 3:26
Bem-Jack Larson 5-yard run (Peterson kick) 1:57
Brd-Nathaniel Staehling 1-yard run (kick blocked) 0:41
Bem-Gemini Ellis 65-yard run (kick missed) 9:44
Bem-Peterson 23-yard field goal 2:15
Rushes-yards: Brd 21-(-17), Bem 57-265
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 11-24-2-175, Bem 3-10-57
Total offense: Brd 45-158, Bem 67-312
Rushing: Brd-Damien Bentho 10-22, Nathaniel Staehling 7-(-13), 4-(-26); Bem-Gemini Ellis 25-157, Ethan Biehn 7-50, Jacob Kelly 3-21, Jack Larson 8-11
Passing: Brd-Marcello Getty 11-23-175; Bem-Jack Larson 2-6-52
Receiving: Brd-Eli Hoelz 5-124, Jed Klang 4-43, Matthew Huesmann 2-8; Bem-Gavin Luksik 1-31, Caden Bolte 1-21
Bemidji 19, Warriors 6
Key: Bemidji’s Gemini Ellis rushes for 157 yards in the Lumberjacks win.
Subdistrict: Brd 1-2, Bem 1-1.
Overall: Brd 2-3, Bem 1-2.
Next: Brainerd hosts Alexandria 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1.