The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder Football team defeated the Vermilion Community College Ironmen 20-0 on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Ely. The Thunder defense posted their second shutout in three games this season to key the conference win. The Thunder have allowed just 12 points total during the first three games of the 2015 season.
Most of the first half was spent in Vermilion territory with penalties dictating most of the play. A short punt by the Ironmen deep within their own zone gave the Thunder terrific field position late in the first quarter which led to a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Te’Vaughn Hurse (Fort Wayne, IN). The extra point kick was good by Eddie Oquendo (Miami) for a 7-0 Thunder lead.
With eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, Thunder linebacker Keonte Connelly (Baltimore) forced and recovered a fumble deep in Vermilion territory. The Thunder drive was almost kept alive by a scrambling effort by quarterback Kendarian Carter (Houston, TX), but his long run for a first down was called back due to a holding penalty. The Thunder had multiple chances to score but penalties limited the offensive production.
With about four minutes left in the second quarter, Thunder free safety Samuel Johnson (Jacksonville, FL) intercepted Vermilion quarterback Devonta Whitaker’s pass. Johnson returned the interception 30 yards for an apparent touchdown but unfortunately, the return was nullified due to a penalty on the return. The Thunder were then held by a strong Vermilion defensive goal line stand, giving the ball away via turnover on downs.
But the Thunder were not yet done with the first half.
With less than a minute remaining the Thunder forced the Ironmen to punt deep from their own territory, giving the Thunder great field position. Trying to salvage some missed opportunities up to this point, Thunder quarterback Kendarian Carter aired out a 35-yard pass to a well-defended Te’Vaughn Hurse in the end zone with just five seconds left in the quarter. Kicker Eddie Oquendo made the extra point for a14-0 Thunder lead at halftime.
The third quarter was a defensive battle. Thunder linebacker Logan Crowser (Cloquet) blocked a punt halfway through the quarter. Late in the quarter, the Thunder special teams stood their ground by stopping a fake punt attempt on fourth and short by the Ironmen.
The special teams magic continued into the fourth quarter as a punt return was fumbled by Vermilion punt returner Marvin Seabrooks and recovered by the Thunder’s Payden LeBoeuf (Cloquet). As a result, the Thunder were again given good field position but were unable to convert the field position into points.
With less than two minutes to go in the game, the Ironmen were backed up near their own end zone. Trying to get some momentum going to potentially spark a late-game comeback, Vermilion backup quarterback Steve Blackshear, in for injured Devonte Whitaker, launched a pass down the sideline intended for Vermilion wide receiver Jaylin Freeman. The Thunder defense was in the right place as defensive back Alejandro Rivera (Columbia, MD) intercepted Blackshear’s pass near the sideline. Rivera then weaved his way across the field through the Ironmen, reaching the end zone on the opposite side of the field for a pick-six touchdown return of the interception. Vermilion’s Kory Cullum blocked the extra point kick to make the score 20-0 in favor of the Thunder.
The Thunder improve to 2-1 on the season. They will play their third consecutive road game next Saturday in Virginia against MCAC rival Mesabi Range Technical and Community College.
THUNDER STATISTICAL LEADERS:
Passing
Kendarian Carter, 4 for 13, 61 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing
Te’Vaughn Hurse, 17 carries for 83 yards, 1 TD
Josh Bender, 16 carries for 42 yards
Jalen Simmons, 4 carries for 18 yards
Receiving
Damon Barnes, 2 receptions for 25 yards
Te’Vaughn Hurse, 1 reception for 35 yards, TD
Defense
Keonte Connelly, 9 tackles, 1.5 sacks
Gavin Leach, 7 tackles, 3 sacks
Donte Arnold, 6 tackles
Eddie Oquendo, 4 tackles, 1.5 sacks
Thanks to Thunder Football Statistician Jonathan Becker for preparing this game summary and statistical highlights.

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