Peyton Neadeau rushed and passed for touchdowns in the first quarter and Bemidji’s defense came up with three takeaways and several crucial fourth down stops to preserve a 14-7 win over Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday at the University of St. Thomas’ O’Shaughnessy Stadium.
The first-ever football matchup between the Lumberjacks and Raiders got off to a perfect start for Bemidji with a methodical opening drive that culminated in Neadeau’s two-yard dash to the end zone on 3rd and Goal.
Three plays into CDH’s first offensive drive of the game, a combined sack of quarterback Miles Bollinger by Lucas Caron and Spencer Ness popped the ball free and allowed for Fisher Ganske to scoop it up and set the Jacks’ offense up on the Raiders’ 20-yard line.
The Lumberjacks dialed up a quick strike off the takeaway, with Neadeau hitting Owen Frazer across the middle for a 20-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Long drives for both teams led to a fast-moving first half and another significant takeaway by the Jacks’ defense that thwarted a lengthy march by Cretin-Derham Hall. Alec Newby’s edge blitz jarred the ball out of Bollinger’s hands on a third-down dropback, leading to a fumble recovery by Ness in Bemidji’s defensive red zone.
Cretin opened the second half with another effective drive, but the Jacks’ defense came up with another stop on a fourth-down pass breakup deep in their end of the field.
Just two plays later though, the Raiders had the ball back by way of recovering a snap that ricocheted off one of Bemidji’s motion receivers.
Raiders receiver Jaylen Gayles cut Bemidji’s lead in half on the next play from scrimmage with a reverse sweep that went 20 yards for a touchdown.
With Bemidji’s offense stalling again in the third quarter, the defense stepped up for another vital takeaway in the fourth to get the ball in the shadow of their own goalpost. Ganske stepped in front of a Bollinger pass to the end zone for an interception that once again preserved the lead.
Despite driving the length of the field on the ensuing possession, the Jacks found themselves victims of a goal line pick of their own when Neadeau’s fourth down toss toward the end zone was intercepted.
Cretin started to get the ball moving again, but Bemidji’s defense again made a stand–this time at midfield by forcing a turnover on downs after an incompletion.
The Lumberjacks put the game away on offense with a pair of first-down rushes–first on 3rd and 7 by Frazer after a false start had moved the Jacks backward, then on another third down dash by Frazer that ran the clock to zero.
Dawson Degelder posted 84 yards on the ground to lead Bemidji’s rushing attack, while Frazer added 60 receiving yards and the touchdown grab. The Lumberjacks’ defense finished with three takeaways and two sacks while holding the Raiders to just 216 total yards.
Bemidji (1-1) will next host Moorhead in its first Section 8AAAAA game of the season on Friday at 7pm.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Bryan Stoffel: