(Alexandria, MN) -- One comeback from a 14-point deficit by Alexandria Friday evening briefly tied the score, but a second comeback from an identical deficit was foiled by Bemidji, as the Lumberjacks prevailed 28-26 in a North Central Red District football match-up.
Trailing 14-0 at intermission, the host Cardinals roared back with two long scoring drives in the second half to tie the score after three quarters. However, state-ranked Bemidji responded with a pair of touchdowns of its own to restore a 14-point cushion before holding Alexandria off for a 28-26 victory.
Junior running back Will Falldorf scored from six yards out early in the final period to snap a 14-14 tie, putting Bemidji in front for good. It was his second score of the night. The Lumberjacks' other two touchdowns came on short runs by quarterback Brett Tharaldson. Place kicker Grant DeClusin converted all four of his extra point kicks successfully after the Bemidji scores.
Alexandria's junior running back, Nolan Morical, toted the pigskin frequently Friday night, amassing nearly 150 yards rushing on 29 carries. He scored second on second half touchdown runs of 18 and 2 yards.
Cardinal quarterback Matthew Carlsen threw for a pair of scores....one on a pass covering 14 yards to receiver Kristen Hoskins to go along with an 18-yard strike to Cody Branson. The Branson touchdown came with just 1:18 to play. However, because the Cards missed the point-after-touchdown attempt on their third score, Alexandria was forced to go for a two-point conversion late, in a bid to tie the game at 28. Carlsen's across the grain throw intended for Aaron Jost near the right corner of the end zone was incomplete, which allowed Bemidji to maintain a two-point lead. After Alexandria's unsuccessful onside kick attempt, Bemidji recorded two first downs (one on a defensive penalty by Alexandria) to run out the clock and preserve the win.
The Lumberjacks are the defending Section 8AAAAA Champions and are now off to a 3-0 start. That includes a 2-0 record in the North Central Red District. Bemidji was ranked sixth in the Class AAAAA poll prior to the Week 3 game at Alexandria. The loss will likely drop the Cardinals in the state rankings. Alexandria was ranked fourth in Class AAAAA at the start of the week. The Cards' North Central record now stands at 1-1, with an overall mark of 2-1.
Alexandria will travel to Willmar for a North Central Inter-District game on Friday, September 20th. Willmar is presently 1-1 in the North Central White after prevailing at Big Lake on Friday. Including a season-opening loss to Detroit Lakes, Willmar will take a 1-2 record into next Friday's game with Alexandria at Hodapp Field. Kickoff in Willmar next Friday is at 7:00, with radio coverage on KXRA (1490 AM/100.3 and 105.7 FM) and online at www.voiceofalexandria.com.
Below are extended VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS of Friday's game.