by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Zimmmerman Thunder, hoping for an upset to extend their season, missed some chances and lost to a steady, poised Becker Bulldogs squad 26-7Saturday.
Tommy Benson fired three touchdown passes to lead top-seeded Bulldogs (8-1) in the Section 5AAAA semifinals.
“We didn’t play our best,” said Thunder coach Tom Kish. “We didn’t play poorly, but we did not make the plays we had to make, and Becker did. They have a really good team.”
Zimmerman finished 6-4.
“You’d always like to do better,” said Kish, “and we could have done a little better. But these seniors, in their four years, really helped raise the bar. They turned the program around so that winning seasons are the norm now.”
The Thunder played much better pass defense than they did in their 56-22 conference loss to Becker when three defensive backs were injured. Benson had 387 yards that night.
The Bulldog signaler had things under control as he nailed 11 of 18 for 193 yards, with TD passes to Brett Watercott from 18 and 12 yards, and to Eric Dudek from 21 yards. The other Becker score was Austin Soar’s 4-yard run.
The Thunder trailed 20-7 after Noah Lunning scored on a 9-yard run early in the third period, then gave up the final scoring drive.
Cam Korath completed 9 of 18 passes for 132 yards, with Lunning catching four for 70. Jeff Mueller rushed for 58 yards and finished his season with 954.
The halftime score was 20-0.
“It really should have been 7-0,” reflected Kish.
The Thunder stopped one Becker drive at their 35 but couldn’t get a first down, and gave up a 37-yard punt return that led to the second Bulldog touchdown.
They almost had a quarterback sack on a third-and-15 play but Benson slipped away and completed a first-down pass, keeping alive the third TD drive.
“We also dropped couple balls we should have had, and they made a couple fantastic catches,” said Kish. “We could have had an interception and took it to the house in the first half, but we dropped it.”
Becker will host Delano (7-3) for the section championship on Friday.
Becker 26, Zimmerman 7
Zimmerman …………. 0 0 7 0 — 7
Becker ……………….. 7 13 6 0 — 26
Bec—Brett Watercott 18 pass from Tommy Benson (Shane Busch kick)
Bec—Austiin Soare 4 run (Busch kick)
Bec—Eric Dudek 21 pass from Benson (kick failed)
Zim—Noah Lunning 9 run (Alex MacGregor kick)
Bec—Watercott 12 pass from Benson (pass failed)
Rushing — Zimmerman 38-115, Becker 40-193
Passing — Zimmerman 9-18-132-0, Becker 11-18-193-1
Penalties — Zimmerman 7-64, Becker 5-49
Turnovers — Zimmerman 2 fumbles; Beckere 1 fumble, 1 interception
Rushing — Lunning 8-33, Cam Korlath 7-28, Collin Ashley 2-(-8), Jeff Mueller 16-48, Andrew Nixon 3-12, Austin May 2-2
Passing — Korlath 9-18-132-0
Receiving — Lunning 4-70, Ashley 3-26, Nixon 1-31, Tristan Pettit 1-5
Interception — Ashley
Rushing — Dudek 9-55, Soare 9-54
Passing — Benson 11-18-193-1
Receiving — Watercott 6-87, Dudek 4-69, Digger Oestreich 1-41