After losing their homecoming game last year for the first time since 1995, the Brainerd Warriors were determined not to repeat that distinction Saturday.
Brainerd rallied for a 24-20 win over the Bemidji Lumberjacks at Adamson Field. Senior running back Logan Davis, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass with 2:33 left, didn’t like being on the short end of last year’s homecoming score.
“It’s always a perfect way to end homecoming week, getting a win at the homecoming game,” Davis said. “It was the most important thing for us. It was just awesome.”
Junior linebacker Taylor Streiff agreed.
“A lot of the players were jacked up about (homecoming),” Streiff said. “It was a big deal.”
■ Air Stoxen
After passing for 200 yards in the first five games combined, Brainerd quarterback Thomas Stoxen had his finest throwing game as a Warrior, completing 9 of 14 passes for 187 yards and no interceptions.
“(Bemidji was) playing nine guys in the box most of the day, trying to stop our run game,” Stoxen said, “so it was easier to find guys that were open because they only really had three guys deep.”
The Warriors have been striving for a balanced offensive attack all season and it happened Saturday. Brainerd added 148 yards on the ground for a total offense output of 335. Stoxen was aided by highlight-reel catches by Logan McElfresh, Cole Smith and Logan Davis.
“I was really happy to see that progress,” Warriors coach Ron Stolski said of the passing game. “Tommy kind of laid (the passes) out there, and the kids went and got them. That will help us down the road. We’re trying to develop all that.”
Stoxen credited his receivers for enabling the passing game to thrive. And, Isaiah Smith added four catches for 39 yards.
“The first one to Logan was tough,” Stoxen said. “I didn’t think he was going to get there and I made a terrible throw. He was wide open but he saved me on that one. Cole — I just threw it up and I knew Cole would go get it, the same with Davis. I put it where only they could get it.”
■ Picking it off
Streiff’s interception in the final 90 seconds preserved the win.
“It was a (fourth) and short,” he said. “The coaches made me aware the screen probably was coming so I floated over to where it was coming. I saw the ball coming, jumped up and grabbed it.”
■ Lumberjacks show up
Bemidji rushed for 200 yards and passed for another 119 to finish with 319 total yards. Bemidji ran 61 plays from scrimmage to Brainerd’s 53.
Lumberjacks quarterback James Hendricks rushed for 103 yards and accounted for all of the passing yards. Running back Tanner Boes rushed for 95 yards.
“The field was pretty slippery so most of the time we had trouble keeping our feet underneath us, but other than that I feel like we played a great game,” Streiff said.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.