by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Zimmerman is 2-0 in football for the first time after three Lunning sibs sparked a 33-13 conquest of the Little Falls Flyers on Friday night at home, in the Thunder’s first-ever Granite Ridge Conference game.
Ethan Lunning tossed three touchdown passes, two of them to his twin brother Caleb, who also scored on an interception return. Both are seniors. Noah Lunning, a sophomore, made six tackles and broke up four passes at defensive back.
This is Zimmerman’s ninth year of football and the first time they’ve been 2-0, on the heels of a 12-7 opening win over Cambridge-Isanti last week.
“We came out of the gates fast and played at a high level all night,” said coach Tom Kish. “It was a nice win over a solid Little Falls team.”
The Thunder rushed for 228 yards and passed for 118 behind an offensive line that had two sophomores — Dustin Neseth and Eli Muellenbach — filling in nicely for injured players who are expected back next week, said Kish.
Lunning’s 55-yard return of an interception opened the scoring in the first quarter.
“Little Falls went into a spread offense and we have an automatic check for that formation that worked perfectly,” said Kish.
Tony Obinger had a clear shot at the quarterback and rushed him into a bad decision, with Lunning capitalizing, snagging the ball with a clear field ahead of him.
“That’s the second straight week our first touchdown has been by the defense,” noted Kish.
Collin Ashley had a one-yard TD run in the first quarter and Ben Newman countered with a 13-yard scoring jaunt shortly after, leaving the Thunder up 13-7 at the first break.
Ethan Lunning, who threw just 10 passes, completed six for 118 yards and the three scores. He hit Caleb from four yards out in the second quarter, fired a long bomb to Luke Schmit for a 66-yarder in the third quarter, and added a six-yard flip to Caleb later in the quarter.
Zimmerman was 3-4 in the Mississippi 8 last year and Little Falls was 4-4 in the Central Lakes. The Flyers are 0-2 including a 34-20 loss to a ranked Detroit Lake team.
Next week, the Thunder will play at Foley, which is both a conference and section rival.
Zimmerman 33, Little Falls 13
Little Falls …….. 6 0 0 7 – 13
Zimmerman …..13 7 13 0 – 33
Zim – Caleb Lunning 55 yard interception return (kick failed)
Zim – Collin Ashley 1 yard run (Brandon Smith kick)
LF – Ben Newman 13 run (kick blocked)
Zim – Caleb Lunning 4 pass from Ethan Lunning (Smith kick)
Zim – Luke Schmit 66 pass from E. Lunning (kick failed)
Zim – C. Lunning 6 pass from E. Lunning (Smith kick)
LF – Newman 2 run (Grant Bell kick)
Zimmerman offensive statistics
Passing (cmp-att-yards-int) — E. Lunning 6-10-118-1, C. Lunning 1-1-36-0
Rushing — E. Lunning 6-40, Noah Lunning 1-11, C. Lunning 5-38, Ashley 10-27, Cam Korlath 6-27, Smith 5-57, Mueller 4-38
Receiving – Schmit 1-66, Ashley 1-11, Gabrielson 1-36, Smith 1-11, C. Lunning 3-23
Zimmerman defensive statistics
Tackles — Jake Antolak 9, Jeff Mueller 8, Smith 7, N. Lunning 6. E. Lunning 6, Schmit 6, Sloneker 6
Tackles for loss — Schmit 1, Jeremy Sloneker 1, Antolak 1
Sacks — Antolak 1
Forced fumbles — Antolak 1
Interceptions — C. Lunning 1
Pass breakups — N. Lunning 4
Fumble recovery — E. Lunning 1