By Jake Schroer
Star News Contributing Sports Writer
The season opener saw the Rogers Royals travel north to take on the Bemidji Lumberjacks at Bemidji State University; a game they would lose 24-21 Thursday night.
Late in the first quarter, the Lumberjacks scored the first points of the season on a 35-yard field goal by Lineas Whiting to take a 3-0 lead.
Rogers scored on its next drive; going for it on fourth down from Bemidji’s 27, quarterback Cole Larson threw a touchdown strike to Eli Solberg. The PAT failed, but the Royals still held a 6-3 lead early in the second.
The game turned into a defensive battle for the rest of the first half and the third quarter as the slim advantage held for the Royals. Then, in the fourth, Larson hooked up with Solberg once again. This time, it was a 56-yard score to open up a 13-3 lead.
Turnovers were a problem for Rogers, and the ugliest ones came in the fourth quarter. After allowing another field goal, the Royals fumbled the ball away deep in their own territory and paid the price as the Lumberjacks scored on the very next play. The score read 13-12 after a missed PAT.
The Lumberjacks scored again to take an 18-13 lead later in the fourth, and Larson’s first thrown interception of the night set them up to score again and lead 24-13 with just 59 seconds left. Solberg and Larson hooked up one more time for a 48-yard touchdown, but time ran out on the Royals.
Larson finished with 227 yards passing and three touchdowns, making for most of the Royals’ offense. Solberg’s nine receptions for 208 yards in a single game both set new school records.
Head coach Marc Franz said that the game had lots of highs and lows, highlighting the passing game as a big positive from the loss. Ball security will be something to work on, Franz said.
“It’s tough to overcome when you have five turnovers.”
Fortunately for the Royals, Franz said, turnover problems are something a team can control and correct.
Collin Murray rushed 12 times for 50 yards, leading the way in rushing for the Royals.
The Royals (0-1) play at Andover on Friday.