Football: Mistakes bury Thunder in 19-7 loss to Fridley

Zimmerman's Dustin Neseth (57) and Collin Lane (30) put a rush on Fridley's Tyree Caruthers, who threw incomplete on this play. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Zimmerman’s Dustin Neseth (57) and Collin Lane (30) put a rush on Fridley’s Tyree Caruthers, who threw incomplete on this play. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

The Zimmerman football team entered the season with a largely inexperienced lineup, and it showed, glaringly, in their opening game Friday evening.

The Thunder had a good first quarter before sputtering the rest of the game and lost to the Fridley Tigers 19-7.

Thunder quarterback Taylor Snow ran for first-down yardage. Approaching to tackle him was 15xxx. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Thunder quarterback Taylor Snow ran for first-down yardage. Approaching to tackle him was 15xxx. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

They had a parade of mistakes the last three periods, including nine fumbles, three of which were lost, and three safeties given up, on center snaps over the punter (twice) or quarterback (once).

Fridley, meanwhile, had a nice corps of nimble receivers, and two quarterbacks who could get the ball to them, as they kept the chains moving after the first quarter.

Fridley receiver Michael Murray was tackled by Collin Lane (30) and Trent Milless (49). (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Fridley receiver Michael Murray was tackled by Collin Lane (30) and Trent Milless (49). (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“We were pretty sloppy, offensively,” acknowledged Tom Kish, Thunder coach. “We thought, last week, that we had things cleaned up, but we didn’t tonight … We knew coming into this year we have a lot of new guys. The biggest thing for us is to just get better and correct the mistakes we’ve been making.”

Most the Thunder fumbles came on center snaps to soph quarterback Taylor Snow or handoffs to running backs. Snow lost one fumble on a blindside hit while passing. Fortunately the Thunder were able to recover most of their drops but even those were six wasted plays with negative yards.

Snow was sacked four times (Pat Whalen got him twice) and repeatedly pressured as the Tigers penetrated a Thunder offensive line that’s all varsity rookies except for standout center Dustin Neseth, who was cramping up and had to leave the game twice.

“We’ll have to check the film and see what the problems were on the offensive line,” said Kish. “They had a lot of pressure on the quarterback and we can’t have that.”

One Thunder bright spot was Alex MacGregor's punting. At right is blocker Chase Rosby. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

One Thunder bright spot was Alex MacGregor’s punting. At right is blocker Chase Rosby. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Zimmerman ruled the first quarter, thanks largely to Alex MacGregor’s punts of 59 and 42 yards with no returns and his touchback kickoff, plus a sack by Mitchell Mossman that led to Fridley punting from its own end zone. With a short field after that punt, the Thunder scored on a 30-yard pass from Snow to a leaping Noah Lunning in the end zone, with MacGregor adding the point.

Fridley owned the second quarter. Senior quarterback Nick Rathke, a lefty operating from the shotgun, moved the chains with several completions, and bolted the last four yards up the middle. Zimmerman’s Austin Tretbar deflected the extra-point kick to preserve a one-point lead.

Talking it over on the sideline were (from left) running back Noah Lunning, backup quarterback Mathew Dorso, running back Mack Riley and quarterback Taylor Snow. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Talking it over on the sideline were (from left) running back Noah Lunning, backup quarterback Mathew Dorso, running back Mack Riley and quarterback Taylor Snow. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Rathke left the game with a leg injury while running for a first down, but his replacement, sophomore Tyree Caruthers, had a good game, too, highlighted by a 14-yard scoring strike to Michael Murray that gave Fridley a 13-7 lead.

The Zimmerman defense was stout except for the second quarter. But, mired in lousy field position most of the game, the offense gave up safeties in the second, third and fourth quarters. “Three of them, that must be a record,” lamented Kish.

The Thunder had one big chance when Andrew Nixon intercepted a pass, with 70 yards of open field ahead of him, in the fourth quarter, but he fell while making the catch. They had another when the Tigers were penalized 30 yards for two unsportsmanlike conduct calls, but couldn’t advance.

The Thunder will host Becker in their conference opener next Friday.

 

Fridley 19, Zimmerman 7

Zimmerman ……. 7   0   0   0 — 7
Fridley …………… 0  15   2   2  — 19
Zim—Noah Lunning 30 pass from Taylor Snow (Alex MacGregor kick)
Frid—Nick Rathke 4 run (kick blocked)
Frid—Michael Murray 14 pass from Tyree Carruthers (kick, name not available)
Frid — safety, center snap through end zone
Frid— safety, center snap through end zone
Frid— safety, center snap through end zone

Zimmerman  statistics
Passing — Snow 9-20-94-0
Rushing — Lunning 9-33, Snow  12-15, Austin May 6-10, Andrew Nixon  2-0
Receving — Lunning 4-42, Nixon 2-36, Nick Hasslen 2-13, Tristan Petitt 1-3
Tackles (solo-assist-total) — Mack Riley 7-3-10, Hunter Smith 4-6-10, Austin May 1-7-8, Cody Thompson 1-7-8, Hasslen 6-1-7, Evan Langston 0-6-6
Sacks — Collin Lane 1, Hasslen 1, Mitchell Mossman 1
Interception — Nixon 1
Passes defended — Thompson 3

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