Going into the second week of the season, we knew we would be coming into some key match-ups right off the bat. It started with our game of the week in Aquin, where the Bulldogs were taking on Stockton, then finding out whether Du-Pec was for real coming into EPC, and lastly West Carroll hosting a familiar face in Dakota, who was coming off of a tough loss to the reigning state champs, and West Carroll making a 12 point deficit a nail biter and prevailing against a tough Galena group.
Dakota would return the opening kickoff where they would start on their own 41 yard line. The West Carroll Thunder would have every answer for the Indians offense forcing them to punt right away. In the Thunder’s first look with the ball Derek Tracy would hook up with familiar receiver Michael Popkin for a 36 yard pass. After that, the Thunder would be forced to punt the ball away as well. For almost the first 11 minutes of the football game these two teams would fight tooth and nail going back and forth. It would not be until 1:03 left in the 1st quarter that Kody Sipe would find the endzone for the first score of the game. Following a flag, the Thunder would still convert the 2 point try successfully with a pass to Colton Ballard. It would become 8-0.
There would be no scoring done in the rest of the 1st half of play between the two teams, but I think nearing halftime it was clear why this game was as close as it was. This was a West Carroll offense that would spread the ball with a quarterback in Derek Tracy, who would either pass it off or could tuck it and run for 10 or even 30. Along with that, they could pound the ball over and over with Sipe. With all of that talent, you were colliding in a very tough Dakota defense. And the two balanced each other out way too well.
Going into the second half, the Thunder would return the ball and get things moving. They would punch the ball down the field, which was highlighted by a 12 yard rush by Tracy to the 1 yard line. From there they would not only score on a 1 yard rush from Sipe, but also drain nearly half the 3rd quarter away chewing up the clock. Tracy would throw up a prayer and connect with Sipe for the 2 point conversion as well. It had become 16-0 with 6:30 left in the 3rd Quarter.
The Indians would return the kick off, but they would not hold onto the ball long before losing it on a fumble that would put the Thunder on the 30 yard line going in. That very next play, Derek Tracy faked a pitch and tucked the ball and ran 30 yards for a Thunder touchdown. Following another successful 2 point conversion, the West Carroll Thunder were up on Dakota 24-0 with 3:58 left in the 3rd.
The Dakota Indians, who seemed to run into the same issue throughout the night at the most important moments, gave up the ball once more during the next drive. The Thunder would try to put a dagger in the Indians before throwing a pick in the endzone for a touchback, giving them life. The following drive would be highlighted by a 47 yard rush by workhorse Evan Riggle, which set the Indians up nicely for a 14 yard pass from Josh Clark to Quinton Heilemeier with 42 seconds left in the 3rd. The extra point try was blocked leaving the score at 24-6. The Indians were on the board!
The 4th quarter would grow to be a defensive battle between the two teams. The Thunder were forced in the 4th quarter to punt on multiple drives which set up the Dakota Indians for a chance to close the gap. With only 5 minutes left in the 4th, the Thunder would fumble the ball and would be recovered by the Indians, who would take the opportunity and punch the ball in with a 1 yard rush by Riggle. With an unsuccessful two point conversion and the clock dwindling, it was now 24-12 and there was only 1:40 left in the game. The Indians would attempt an onside kick, which would be recovered by the Thunder who would run the clock and take the W. For the Thunder, Derek Tracy would end the night 4-7 passing for 73 yards, 6 rushes for 67 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Kody Sipe had 9 rushes for 37 yards and 2 TD's. The Thunder also were lead by Desmond Simpson with 5 yards rushing and Aiden Sullivan with 10 rushes for 45 yards. Colton Ballard would end with 20 yards receiving and Michael Popkin would finish the night with 53 yards.
On the Dakota Indians side, Josh Clark would go 4-12 passing for 57 yards, 6 rushes for 39 yards, and 1 TD pass. Caden Moyer was 1-1 passing, while Lucas Sutherland had 7 yards rushing. The Indians were also lead by workhorse Evan Riggle with 10 rushes for 109 yards and 25 yards receiving with 1 TD. Quinton Heilemeier had 2 receptions for 22 yards, and Wyatt Rockey had 18 yards receiving.
The Thunder Offense would end with a total of 300 yards while defense dominated with 5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries. The Indians offense would finish with 285 yards total respectively, and their defense would add 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery.