The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder Football team lost 39-6 to undefeated Itasca Community College at Terry Egerdahl Field in Proctor on Saturday, September 14. The Thunder loss dropped them to 2-2 on the season and 1-1 in Minnesota College Athletic Conference Eastern Division play.
“We took a tough loss on a day when we had trouble generating offense,” said Thunder Head Coach Robert Smith. “We also were plagued with giving up big plays on defense and getting penalties at crucial times.”
The game started tight and was closely played with a tie score of 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. Itasca finally scored in the second quarter after two consecutive big plays, the first being a well-defended 22-yard pass and then a 20-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
The Thunder defense stopped the next Itasca drive in the red zone with a forced fumble by defensive end Rashad Roddy that was recovered by the Thunder. Itasca added a late score just before halftime, but the Thunder special teams blocked the extra point attempt to keep the score within reach at 13-0 leading into the break.
Both teams went back-and-forth in the third quarter until Itasca found the end zone with less than three minutes to play. An untimely offside penalty by the Thunder defense kept the Itasca drive going for a 20-0 lead at the end of three quarters.
Itasca broke open the game in the fourth quarter with three touchdowns, including an interception that was returned for a defensive score.
The Thunder offense finally got onto the scoreboard with about nine minutes remaining on a 12-yard pass from emergency quarterback Mason Klinger (who is a starting wide receiver) to running back Justice Bice.
“Some positives from the game include the fact that we were in the game and moving the ball, we just needed to finish things off in the red zone. This game was similar to our earlier loss in that we were competing, and the game was not out of reach,” said Smith. “For things to work on, we need to minimize big plays when on defense and win the turnover margin.”
The turnover margin in the game was 4-2 in favor of Itasca and included the interception that was returned for a touchdown.
The Thunder defense was led by linebacker Trayvis Smith with 10 tackles; linebacker DJ Buckhanan with 8 tackles; and defensive end Rayshad Roddy with 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble.
Leading the Thunder offensive statistics were wide receiver Mason Klinger with 7 receptions for 56 yards, plus Klinger threw a touchdown pass for the lone Thunder score.
The Thunder play their fifth game of the 2019 season this weekend with a non-conference game against the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point JV at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 22, in Stevens Point. The Thunder then have a stretch of three road games against Minnesota College Athletic Conference opponents.