The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder Football team improved to 2-1 on 2019 season with a 42-14 victory over Vermilion Community College at NBC Stadium in Superior on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Thunder win was in Minnesota College Athletic Conference Eastern Division play.
“It was important for us to get off to a good start in the game and we scored quickly on our first possession,” said Thunder Head Coach Robert Smith. “The touchdown came right after a great defensive start when we forced a three-and-out on Vermilion’s first possession.”
The Thunder’s opening touchdown was a 61-yard downfield pass from quarterback Danny Jackson to wide receiver Roderick Washington just three minutes into the game. The Thunder defense followed up with a defensive score on Vermilion’s next possession when defensive back Josh Butler intercepted a Vermilion pass in the end zone and ran it back 102 yards for a Thunder touchdown and a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
Vermilion scored on a Thunder fumble in the end zone to cut the lead to 14-7 in the second quarter, but the Thunder then took control of the game with a safety by the defense and another long touchdown pass of 75 yards from Jackson to wide receiver Le’Quayvaious Greene to lead 22-7 at halftime.
“We were in a good position at halftime,” said Smith. “We talked about staying focused, buckling down, and finishing every play.”
Thunder running back Quri Hickman rumbled into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to increase the lead to 29-7. Vermilion then put together a drive on offense, capped off with a short touchdown run that cut the lead to 29-14 at the end of the third quarter.
Thunder quarterbacks Danny Jackson and Anthony Boyd both left the game with injuries, so back-up quarterback Nick Heath entered the game and led the Thunder to another touchdown, this time on a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mason Klinger to make the score 35-14. Running back Hickman closed out the Thunder scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 42-14.
“Overall, we had a good week of practice leading up to the game,” said Smith. “We finally had game film of the opponent to study, and we had time to prepare a good plan for the game. Early season games are often more challenging when you don’t have scouting reports to use. It feels like we are settling down and coming together as a team.”
Leading the Thunder offensive statistics were running back Quri Hickman with 112 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns; receiver Le’Quayvaious Greene with 2 receptions for 77 yards and one touchdown; receiver Roderick Washington with 2 catches for 70 yards and one touchdown; and quarterback Danny Jackson was 12-of-23 for 174 yards and two touchdown passes in the first half before leaving the game due to an injury.
The Thunder defense was led by defensive back Josh Butler with two interceptions, including one he returned 102 yards for a touchdown, and four tackles; defensive back Antonio Morrell had two interceptions and two tackles; linebacker DJ Buckhanan had nine tackles; defensive end Jhanviey Nichols had two sacks and four tackles; and defensive tackle Rashaad Roddy added five tackles and one sack. The Thunder defense held Vermilion to 199 total yards and had five interceptions.
The Thunder play their third home game of the season this weekend before heading into a stretch of three games on the road. Kickoff against currently undefeated and nationally ranked Itasca Community College is set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 14, at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.