DULUTH - With a bye to the championship game on the line the Brainerd Lumberjacks needed to defeat the Duluth-Superior Shoremen by three or more points Saturday.
Brainerd could not overcome having more than half of its starters out with injuries and prior commitments, and went down to a 37-0 defeat at Public Schools Stadium.
Following a scoreless first quarter, defensive tackle Antonio Cobbs provided a safety for the Shoremen. On the next offensive drive, D-S quarterback Justin Brickley scored on a 7-yard run.
On the next Lumberjacks snap, Shoremen cornerback Courtney Walters picked off a pass and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.
The Shoremen scored on their first drive of the second half on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Justin Brickley to tight end Duce MacAlister. After a three and out by the Lumberjacks' offense, Hollis Dukes returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown.
The final score came late in the game when Chevy Wheeler caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Dukes and the Shoremen are headed to their second straight league championship game July 25.
"We got beat up," Lumberjacks coach J.J. Kern said. "We were really short-handed out there with 12 of 22 starters not able to make the trip."
The loss sends Brainerd (5-3) to a semifinal matchup July 18 against a yet to be determined opponent.
Kern expects that the majority of players who were unable to play Saturday will be ready after a three-week break.
"We will make adjustments and be ready to play in that next game," he said. "We will have a lot of those guys back that couldn't go Saturday and those are some of our major contributors.
"I know if we go out and beat whoever we play (July 18) we are going to be good and ready for a rematch against Duluth in the championship game."
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