Thunder football lose close game to Central LakesFootball is a game of three platoons – offense, defense and special teams. The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder won two of those platoon battles last Saturday against Central Lakes – but lost the third, and lost the war in the process.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Football is a game of three platoons – offense, defense and special teams. The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder won two of those platoon battles last Saturday against Central Lakes – but lost the third, and lost the war in the process.
Despite outgaining their opponents 250-200 away from home and playing against the 21st-ranked community college team in the nation, special teams trouble doomed the Thunder to a disappointing 29-26 season-opening loss.
“We should have won the game,” Thunder Coach Keith Turner said. “We gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and another return to inside our 10-yard line. We also turned the ball over on a kickoff and had a short punt.”
The hero of the game for Central Lakes was Averey Duncan, who had 144 return yards in the game including a 75-yard kickoff return for a score.
“Those two special teams plays, those are 14 points,” Turner said. “Take away those two plays and we win the game.”
Offensively, quarterback Mike Davis threw for three scores and 165 yards on 10-for-29 passing. Davis hit receivers Brandon Peterson, Terrance Crowley and Adrian Thompkins for scores but was hindered by five dropped passes.
“Receiver-wise, things are open for us,” Turner said. “We have to catch the ball and we need guys to make plays. You can’t play this game at 50 percent. If you do, we can’t count on you.”
Danny Mason was the team’s leading rusher, with 93 yards on just eight carries for an 11.6-yard average.
“We outgained them, but we had to get out of running the ball once we got behind,” Turner said. “We also had a slow start because essentially we had five linemen who really hadn’t played together. We struggled in the first quarter and then we got better as the game went on.”
The good news – the issues raised in the first game are correctable.
“We’re focusing on shoring up the kickoff team,” Turner said. “Getting guys going, getting the snapping fixed. When we go into games like these where we are physical and outgain opponents, we have to expect to win. We don’t have any more moral victories, and that’s one thing about this game I feel good about. The players understand it wasn’t a moral victory – we should have won the game.”
Turner was also pleased with his team’s second half.
“We played defense really well, ran the ball well, and picked up blitzes,” he said. “We’re figuring things out and it won’t be game four or five like last year. The guys are seeing it and seeing what they have to do.”
Turner also had praise for Barnum’s Josh Hogan, who played in his first college game after a standout career with the Bombers.
“He’s a good player,” Turner said. “He’s on every special team and when we have two tight ends in the game he’s getting in there too. He’s a kid we won’t have on the sidelines, because he can play just about anywhere we need him. He has really good ball skills. He can catch it and run after he catches it.”
The team’s other tight end is Moose Lake-Willow River’s Nick Kenemore.
“They have a little Moose Lake/Barnum rivalry going on,” Turner said. “They don’t want to drop balls, they don’t want to get outdone by the other guy.”
The team’s next game is Saturday against Minnesota State-Fergus Falls.
“They are physical with speed but not a lot of depth,” Turner said. “If we play like we did Saturday without the mistakes, we can beat them. Any person standing and watching us last week would see a message that when they play Fond du Lac, they better strap ’em up because we will be physical and hard-nosed.”
The following home games will be broadcast on WKLK 96.5 FM: Sept. 10 against Minnesota West at 1:30 p.m.; Sept. 24 against Itasca at 1 p.m.; Oct. 8 against Ridgewater at 3 p.m.; and Oct. 20 against Vermilion at 2 p.m.