Just two days after learning it would be playing Edina in a new matchup, Bemidji took center stage in the greater metro area for a 35-0 rout of the Hornets on Friday evening in Edina’s homecoming at Kuhlman Field.
COVID-19 cancellations for games with St. Cloud Apollo and St. Michael-Albertville brought Bemidji and Edina together on Wednesday afternoon to schedule each other for a short-notice, first time meeting in football on Friday. With their homecoming game back on, Edina also provided the traveling Lumberjacks with several special acts of hospitality.
The Bemidji football team left this morning for the four-hour drive to play at Edina tonight. The Hornets have rented the Braemar Dome for the Lumberjacks to stretch, get dressed and warm up. Edina parents will send the Lumberjacks home with stacks and stacks of pizza.@BemidjiFB
— John Millea (@MSHSLjohn) October 23, 2020
Bemidji’s offense settled in midway through the first quarter after both teams swapped early punts. On 3rd-and-12, quarterback Brett Tharaldson went over the middle to tight end Gavin Luksik for a massive 51-yard gain that set Bemidji up on the doorstep of the Edina end zone.
Three plays later, Will Falldorf punched in a one-yard rush to put Bemidji up 7-0.
On defense, the Lumberjacks were a menace from the start against an Edina offense still searching for its first touchdown of the season. Nate Schwinghammer and Gavin Luksik both notched first-half sacks as Bemidji surrendered just 75 yards while maintaining a 7-0 halftime edge.
The second half got off to a perfect start for Bemidji with the game’s first turnover on the half’s second play. Edina quarterback George Sandven was picked off on a rollout throw downfield, giving Bemidji the ball in Hornet territory.
Tharaldson and the offense took full advantage, as he went back to Luksik on the ensuing play for a 42-yard catch-and-run that the tight end took to the end zone to put Bemidji up 14-0.
A defensive three-and-out again handed the offense the ball in Edina territory, and the offense again came up with a big play on third down. From the Edina 28, Tharaldson rolled left before hitting James Williams on a pinpoint strike to the end zone boundary for a toe-tapping touchdown that extended the lead again.
Bemidji’s 21-0 lead carried into the 4th quarter, but grew again following another takeaway. Lussier again made a tumbling play to pick off Sandven on a throw toward the sideline, setting up the offense with a short field once more.
The offense turned the short field into a 28-0 lead when Gemini Ellis’ second effort on a option pitch got him across the goal line from a yard out.
Falldorf added one more touchdown on a cutback run from four yards to complete Bemidji’s impressive second half offensively.
Isaiah Biehn added one further takeaway on defense, as he swiped a pass from Edina backup quarterback Adam Berghult on the Hornets’ final drive.
Tharaldson went 11-20 passing for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also rushing nine times for 46 yards. Williams grabbed six receptions for 71 yards and a score, and Luksik pulled in his two catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Falldorf tallied 24 rushes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Bemidji’s offense piled up 364 total yards for the night.
On defense, the Lumberjacks held Edina to just 138 total yards with three interceptions as well.
Bemidji’s win takes the Lumberjacks to 2-1 while the Hornets continue to seek their first win at 0-3. The Lumberjacks will next visit Brainerd in the annual battle for Babe’s Bell on Friday at 7pm.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Bryan Stoffel: