Barrick Nelson’s two first-half touchdowns fueled a fast start from optimum field position as Bemidji football won a turnover-riddled 28-7 result against Buffalo on Friday evening at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Meeting for the first time ever in football, Bemidji and Buffalo combined for nine turnovers in a game filled with drives and significant defensive contributions. After the Lumberjacks started the game with a punt on offense, Buffalo took a gamble by attempting to convert a 4th-and-4 at its own 26-yard line.
The short field was quickly turned into a touchdown by the Lumberjacks, with a new-look package of personnel featuring three defensive players helping to reach the end zone. Among them was Nelson, who turned a direct snap into a six-yard plunge for the game’s first score.
Buffalo’s first offensive play after the turnover on downs was a high throw from quarterback Evan Soeffker that was pulled in by Ethan Biehn for the game’s first takeaway.
Despite facing a 2nd-and-20, the Bemidji offense used a big run by Gemini Ellis to move the chains and set up an eventual two-yard dash to the end zone for Nelson behind the newly christened “Pancake Platoon”.
The game settled into an offensive stalemate the remainder of the half with a slew of turnovers for both teams. A fumble by Ellis and interception of Hunter Brodina twice gave Buffalo the ball in Bemidji territory, but to no avail on both occasions. Biehn pulled down another interception in the second quarter to help preserve the lead.
Gavin Luksik also helped flip possession with a strip-sack of Soeffker that led to a fumble recovery by Nelson.
Bemidji pieced together one last push late in the half, reaching inside the five-yard line with just seven seconds remaining. Nelson’s attempt to catch the defense off guard with a jump pass to the end zone fell short as the Bison were able to intercept him for the third Bemidji turnover of the quarter.
The third quarter opened with a personal foul penalty on the Lumberjacks during Buffalo’s kickoff return, setting up the visitors on the Bemidji 36-yard line. After taking over five minutes, the Bison capped the drive with a short touchdown run by Owen Herbst to trim the lead to 14-7.
While the offense struggled to move the ball early in the half, Nelson hit a booming punt that tumbled inside the Buffalo 10. That set the stage for Thade Osborn to prod the ball loose from Buffalo running back Danny Phillips–and into the hands of Nate Schwinghammer.
Three plays later, Jacob Kelly took a sweep run and cut back for a three-yard touchdown to increase the lead back to two scores.
Gemini Ellis capped off a run-centered drive in the fourth quarter that featured two runs of his that stretched over 15 yards by scoring from a yard out to complete the game’s scoring.
There was still time for one more takeaway–the fifth of the night by the Lumberjack defense–when Caden Bolte pulled in a third interception of Soeffker later in the quarter.
Ellis piled up 143 rushing yards on 23 carries, part of a collective effort of 314 total yards by the Bemidji offense. The Lumberjack defense held Soeffker to just 5-of-22 passing for 89 yards and the three interceptions, while keeping the Bison to just 172 yards.
The Lumberjacks improve to 2-3 heading into a trip to St. Cloud Tech on Oct. 15.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Bryan Stoffel:
Nate Schwinghammer postgame:
Barrick Nelson postgame: