by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Un — dee — FEEET — ed!
Un — dee — FEEET — ed!
Fans in the Zimmerman student rooting gallery were able to make that cheerful chant again Friday night as the Thunder were wrapping up a 27-13 victory over the Foley Falcons at Foley.
In a duel of 2-0 teams, the Thunder are the one that’s now 3-0, largely because they sacked the Foley quarterback eight times, four of them by linebacker Jeremy Sloneker.
Collin Ashley scored three touchdowns, two of them on long passes from Ethan Lunning from 56 and 33 yards out.
“Foley was pretty physical with some big linebackers and linemen. We were quicker,” said Ashley.
Thunder coach Tom Kish credited his defensive front.
“Not saying Foley doesn’t have a good offensive line, because they do, but they haven’t seen defensive linemen as quick as ours,” said Kish, adding that Zimmerman’s experience in the Mississippi 8 the last few years might be an edge in this new Granite Ridge Conference.
“Those big plays on defense, that was the difference.”
Sloneker, a 5-11, 175-pound junior, made three tackles-for-loss along with his four sacks of Falcon quarterback Cole Nelson.
Another junior linebacker, Mitch Robinson, 5-9 and 205, led with 12 tackles, including two sacks and four others for losses.
The defensive line even came up with an interception, by Jake Antolak in the first quarter.
Foley looked rugged at the outset, pounding for first downs and shutting down Zimmeman’s first two offensives.
“They were pushing us around a little in the first quarter,” said Kish, “and that No. 25 (Taylor Lewandowski) is probably the best running back we’re going to see. He’s tough and he’s shifty.”
But the Thunder’s pressure on Nelson led to a fumble that was recovered by Tyler Theissen and the interception by Antolak.
Lunning and Ashley got the Thunder on the board with the 56-yard pass play as the speedy junior back got open on the left sideline.
Lunning made it 14-0 with a 31-yard run, breaking several tackles, on a counter off the option.
Foley shook loose a fumble from Caleb Lunning and capitalized with a six-yard touchdown by Nick Lefebvre.
But the Thunder responded quickly as Ethan Lunning hit Ashley again for a 31-yard score just before the half for a 21-7 lead with Brandon Smith’s third conversion kick.
“It was the same play,” said Ashley. “They were stacking guys in the box and we went over the top on them. I was wide open and they were perfect passes by Ethan.”
Lunning hit 5 of 13 or 130 yards while the Thunder rushed for 134 yards. They were stymied for the most part other than the three long TD’s and Lunning’s 34-yard toss to Luke Schmit that set up Ashley’s one-yard score in the third quarter.
“Foley was packing it in to stop our running game. They saw we had not thrown a lot the first two games,” said Kish. “Ethan put some balls on the money tonight. We knew we had to throw, to take some shots, if we were going to score touchdowns tonight.”
Foley’s Jordan Brenny intercepted Lunning on the two-yard line with five minutes left in the game. The Thunder almost got a safety on the first play but the Foley back got over the line by six inches. But then Nelson drove them the length of the field, officially a 98-yard drive, and they scored on a nine-yard screen pass to John Goehling with 12 seconds left.
The Thunder and St. Cloud Cathedral currently lead the Granite Ridge with 2-0 marks. The Thunder have homecoming next week against Mora.
Zimmerman 27, Foley 13
Zimmerman …….. 0 21 6 0 — 27
Foley ………………. 0 7 0 6 — 13
Zim – Collin Ashley 56 pass from Ethan Lunning (Brandon Smith kick)
Zim – E. Lunning 31 run (Smith kick)
Fol – Nick Lefebvre 6 run (Christoff Stirnate kick)
Zim – Ashley 33 pass from E. Lunning (Smith kick)
Zim – Ashley 1 run (kick failed)
Fol – John Gehling 9 pass from Cole Nelson (kick failed)
Zimmerman offensive statistics
Passing (cmp-att-yards-int) — E. Lunning 5-13-130-1
Receiving – Ashley 3-93, Luke Schmit 1-34, Cam Korlath 1-3
Rushing – E. Lunning 6-66, Ashley 8-29, Caleb Lunning 5-17, Korlath 4-11, Jeff Mueller 2-11, Noah Lunning 2-0
Zimmerman defensive statistics
Tackles — Mitch Robinson 12, N. Lunning 10, Mueller 10, Jake Antolak 9, Jeremy Sloneker 7, Tony Obinger 6, Tyler Theisen 4
QB sacks — Sloneker 4, Robinson 2, Schmit 1, Antolak 1
Other tackles for loss — Robinson 4, Sloneker 3
Interception — Antolak 1
Fumble recoveries — Theisen 1, Austin Tretbar 1