The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder football team lost 38-28 to the North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) Wildcats in Wahpeton, ND, on Saturday, August 31, 2019. The Thunder held a 28-24 lead with three minutes left in the game before giving up two late touchdowns during their first road game of the season. The Thunder are now 1-1 for the season.
The Thunder came out fast early in the game and scored on their first two possessions with a rushing touchdown from running back Quri Hickman and a 53-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Danny Jackson to wide receiver Le’Quayvaious Greene for a 14-0 lead.
“It was good to see our team come out ready to play, especially after the long bus trip to North Dakota,” said Thunder Head Coach Robert Smith. “To put up two early scores and force several three-and-out possessions was big for us.”
However, the host Wildcats capitalized on miscues by the Thunder offense and special team units to score three consecutive touchdowns in the first half. Facing a 21-14 deficit just before halftime, Thunder Head Coach Robert Smith switched quarterbacks, inserting Anthony Boyd who came in and completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Eric Grant off a tipped pass to tie the game 21-21 going into the halftime break.
In the second half, after two interceptions thrown by Boyd, the Thunder went back to starting quarterback Danny Jackson who scored a rushing touchdown on a designed quarterback keeper play. Kicker Michael Hall made his fourth extra point kick of the day for a 28-21 Thunder lead.
NDSCS kicked a field goal to cut the Thunder lead to 28-24 early in the fourth quarter. NDSCS gambled on fourth down at midfield, converting a short-yardage play for a first down to sustain a drive with about four minutes remaining in the game. The Wildcats then connected on a deep pass for a touchdown with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter to take a 31-28 lead. On the following possession, Thunder quarterback Jackson fumbled deep in their own zone, turning over the ball to the NDSCS which led to a short touchdown run that sealed the game for the Wildcats.
“We just made too many unforced errors that led to turnovers and big plays against us,” said Coach Smith. “We had a firm grasp on the game in both the first and fourth quarters, but we let it slip away.”
Leading the Thunder offensive statistics were quarterbacks Danny Jackson who went 11-of-18 for 108 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions, and Anthony Boyd who went 7-of-13 for 125 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions. Leading the receivers were Le’QuayVaious Greene with three catches for 83 yards and one touchdown, and Mason Klinger with five catches for 83 yards.
Leading the Thunder defensive statistics were linebacker Javien Newton with 11 tackles and one interception, defensive end Jhanviey Nichols with two sacks and a forced fumble, and cornerback Eric Grant with one tackle, a fumble recovery, an interception, and he also caught a touchdown pass as a wide receiver on offense.
The Thunder return home for their third game of the 2019 season. Kickoff against Minnesota College Athletic Conference Eastern Division opponent Vermilion Community College is set for 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 7, at NBC Stadium in Superior, WI.