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Thunder Football Gets Back on Winning Track with 44-27 Win

The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder Football team improved to 3-2 in the 2019 season with a 44-27 non-conference victory over the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Junior Varsity in Stevens Point on Sunday, September 22.

“It was a good game for us after last week’s loss, it gave us the opportunity to right some wrongs and correct some mistakes,” said Thunder Head Coach Robert Smith. “We matched touchdown scores on the first possession for each team and then our defense produced a three-and-out. Our offense followed up with a 49-yard touchdown pass to take a 12-7 lead in the first quarter. That’s a good start, especially after a long bus trip that started at 6:00 a.m.”

The Thunder offense scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter and the Thunder defense kept UWSP off the scoreboard to take a 24-7 lead into halftime. Thunder cornerback Eric Grant picked off a UWSP pass to set up a Thunder touchdown. Coincidentally, the subsequent touchdown was an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Danny Jackson to Grant, who was playing wide receiver on offense.

“We played solid defense in the second quarter,” said Smith. “We forced the interception, turned that into points, and kept moving forward. We capped off the second quarter with another touchdown pass to Mason Klinger.”

Klinger finished the game with six receptions, 122 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Antonio Morrel added two catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. The Thunder finished with 518 total passing yards in the game. Starting quarterback Danny Jackson was 21-for-43 for 406 yards and five touchdown passes. Back-up quarterback Nick Heath went 3-for-5 for 112 yards and one touchdown pass.

Thunder running back Justice Bice added 47 rushing yards and 84 receiving yards out of the backfield. The Thunder offense produced 580 total yards. The Thunder are averaging 31.2 points scored per game through five games this season.

“Our offensive line played a very good game,” said Smith. “They protected the quarterback, opened up running lanes, and made key blocks at the right times. This was their best performance so far, which is a good sign that they are working well together at this point in the season.”

The Thunder defense was led by linebacker DJ Buckhanan with 16 tackles; linebacker Trayvis Smith with 13 tackles; and linebacker/defensive end Carlos Carter with 10 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. The Thunder defense produced two interceptions and held on two fourth down attempts by UWSP. Thunder return specialist Jeremy Richardson ran back a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, which was the only Thunder score in the third.

Several Thunder defensive players are leading the MCAC and NJCAA statistics. Linebacker DJ Buckhanan leads the conference in tackles with a 10.2 per game average. Defensive end Jhanviey Nichols leads the conference and is tied for first in the nation in sacks with 9.5 total. Defensive tackle Rayshaad Roddy is fourth overall in the conference and fifth in the nation with six sacks total.

Thunder wide receiver Mason Klinger leads the conference in catches with 26 receptions, which is also good enough to put him second overall in the nation.

The Thunder return to Minnesota College Athletic Conference Eastern Division play this weekend and start a stretch of three consecutive games on the road. Kickoff against traditional conference powerhouse Central Lakes College is set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 28, in Brainerd.