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High School Football: Brainerd shut out again as Bemidji takes ‘Babe’s Bell’

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Brainerd quarterback Nathaniel Staehling runs the football against Bemidji High School on Friday night at Chet Anderson Stadium in Bemidji. (Jillian Gandsey | Forum News Service)

The Brainerd Warriors could not recover from their own mistakes as they committed 10 penalties for 64 yards in a 23-0 loss to the Bemidji Lumberjacks Friday, Sept. 6.

“Way too sloppy,” Warrior coach Ron Stolski said of his team’s play. “Way too many mistakes. We played like a poorly coached team. I don’t want to take anything away from Bemidji, they have a nice club. But you can’t play from first and 15 and first and 25. We showed grit but didn’t show any discipline.”

Bemidji running back Will Falldorf got the scoring started in the first quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run. Brainerd’s next possession went three and out and on the punt, the snap went over punter Owen Davis’ head into the back of the endzone for a safety.

The game was tight in the rest of the first half with Bemidji only holding a slim 9-0 advantage at halftime.

Lumberjacks junior running back Falldorf rushed for 212 yards and three touchdowns pacing the Lumberjacks’ offense, but it was not until the second half when he really got going and rushed 151 yards on 10 carries.

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Falldorf’s biggest highlight came in the fourth quarter when he broke a 72-yard touchdown run, putting the game out of reach for the Warriors at 23-0.

Despite the loss and the sloppy play, Stolski still thought his team played better than last week.

“We had a better focus this week,” Stolski said. “I told them we would play better and I actually think we did. I don’t know if you can say you played so much better, though, when you shoot yourself in the foot that many times.”

Brainerd still knocked on the door for a score in the fourth quarter getting into the red zone highlighted by quarterback Nate Staelhing’s keepers.

But the Warriors stalled and turned it over on downs, which set up Falldorf’s long touchdown run.

The Lumberjacks defense stood tall to Brainerd’s offense only allowing 136 yards.

“Defensively we played solid all game,” Lumberjacks coach Troy Hendricks said. “Special teams was good all game. We looked for leadership in the second half and had some kids step up and make plays.”

The Warriors used a fake punt in the third quarter to try and spark some offense as their trick play drew a pass interference penalty. Again, despite the break, the Warriors offense stalled and they were forced to punt.

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Owen Davis caught six balls for 47 yards for Brainerd as the passing game still wasn’t able to make much noise against the Lumberjacks defense.

Ben Staehling rushed for 39 yards on 12 carries and younger brother Nate Staehling rushed for 36 yards on 16 carries. Nate Staehling also went 6-13 for 47 yards through the air.

“It’s simply a matter of being a more disciplined football team,” Stolski said. “We saw a lot of good things. I thought defensively, frankly, it was just the same story of leaving our guys out too long.”

As the buzzer sounded and after the handshake line, the Lumberjack players raced to sideline to bang on “Babe’s Bell” for a second straight year.

“It’s special for the seniors,” Hendricks said. “They are going to remember this one because of the traveling trophy (Babe’s Bell).”

Brainerd’s loss is their second in a row to start the season and they have yet to put points on the board. Nevertheless, Stolski still thinks his team has more to show.

“I thought defense, we played fine,” Stolski said. “You just cannot have as many errors as we had, especially on the offense end. But it’s a team game.”

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Brainerd 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Bemidji 9 0 7 7 -- 23

First quarter
Bem-Will Falldorf 2 run (Grant DeClusin kick) 2:00
Bem-team safety 1:30
Third quarter
Bem-Falldorf 9 run (DeClusin kick) 7:45
Fourth quarter
Bem-Falldorf 72 run (DeClusin kick) 7:13
Team statistics
Rushes-yards: Brd 34-89, Bem 40-241
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 6-14-1-47, Bem 7-13-0-57
Total offense: Brd 48-136, Bem 53-298

Individual leaders
Rushing: Brd-Ben Staehling 12-39, Nate Staehling 16-36, Davon Stuckey 5-7, Owen Davis 1-7; Bem-Will Falldorf 23-212, Matt Arel 3-10, James Williams 6-5
Passing: Brd-Nate Staehling 6-13-1-47; Bem-Brett Tharaldson 7-13-0-57
Receiving: Brd-Owen Davis 6-47; Bem-Isaiah Reed 3-34, James Williams 3-12, Will Falldorf 1-11

Bemidji 23, Warriors 0

Key: Bemidji’s defense allowed 136 yards of offense

Subdistrict: Brd 0-1, Bem 1-0

Overall: Brd 1-1, Bem 2-0

Next: Brainerd hosts Sauk Rapids 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13

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Brainerd senior Ben Staehling (22) takes down Bemidji’s James Williams on Friday night at Chet Anderson Stadium in Bemidji. (Jillian Gandsey | Forum News Service)

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