HIGHLIGHTS: Jacks Sputter In Second Quarter, Rogers Runs Away With Opener

Despite pulling within 9-6 in the early stages of the second quarter, Bemidji surrendered 24 unanswered points as Rogers claimed a 40-12 victory in week one of the new high school football season on Thursday at Rogers High School.

Meeting one year after Rogers blanked the Lumberjacks 24-0 in Bemidji on its way to an eventual Section 6AAAAA title and appearance in the Class AAAAA state semifinals, the two teams opened the 2022 season in sweltering conditions in front of a large Rogers crowd. A three-and-out from Bemidji on offense was followed by a short field for the Royals at the Bemidji 47-yard line that they turned into a methodical drive. Rogers quarterback Reece Dawson capped the march with his first pass–a 14-yard swing pass to Calvin Kolleh that turned into the game’s opening touchdown.

Bemidji ran into more problems at the conclusion of its second drive with a high snap on a punt attempt landing in the end zone, and the subsequent throwaway landing out of bounds for intentional grounding–and a safety–when the ball did not get back to the line of scrimmage. Rogers nearly extended the 9-0 lead when a 4th down pass was dropped, denying a certain touchdown.

The break turned into a sustained drive for the Lumberjacks, who got another lift on Peyton Neadeau’s 31-yard pass to Aiden Neadeau.

Several plays later, Bemidji was on the board thanks to a reverse sweep from senior Quinten Yeung that found the end zone on a 16-yard run.

A failed point after left Bemidji down 9-6, but Rogers hit back immediately on its next drive. The Royals moved inside the five yard-line on a big 41-yard connection from Dawson to Noah Gordon.

Running back Anthony Powell finished the drive by stepping through a large hole for a two-yard score.

The Royals pieced together another drive that eventually stalled and led to a 23-yard field goal that extended the lead to 19-6. But on the ensuing kickoff, the Jacks gave the ball right back when Alec Newby’s return was fumbled in the middle of the field.

On the next play, Dawson faked a draw handoff before rolling out and taking himself for an 18-yard touchdown that gave Rogers a commanding 26-6 halftime lead.

The Royals had piled up 243 yards of offense in the first half to a mere 87 for Bemidji and got a perfect start to the second half when Dawson found receiver Drew Hennen in single coverage for a 75-yard touchdown strike.

A bright spot for the Lumberjacks came on Ethan Biehn’s slashing run of 58 yards on a pitch out of the triple option, putting Bemidji deep in Rogers territory for a rare moment in the game.

The big run was paid off on a 3rd-down dime from Peyton Neadeau to Yeung in the face of an onrushing blitz for a 21-yard touchdown strike.

The Royals found one more score in the 4th quarter thanks to a five-yard touchdown run by Andrew DeVries.

The hosts finished with 441 yards of offense, led by Dawson’s 7-of-9 passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns passing. Kevin Eull had a team-high 73 yards on the ground from 11 carries.

Bemidji posted 238 yards of offense with Yeung scoring on his only two touches of the game. Biehn rushed four times for 87 yards to lead the Jacks in the run game.

The Lumberjacks (0-1) will take to home field for the first time this season with a rematch of the 2021 Section 8AAAAA championship against Alexandria on Friday at 7pm at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Bryan Stoffel: