Thunder Mountain fell to 0-3 on the year after a 46-6 loss to Nikiski on a soggy, sloppy Saturday night in Juneau.
Rain steadily poured down throughout the game as the two teams combined for nine fumbles, with Thunder Mountain turning the ball over four times while Nikiski gave it away just once. The Falcons also were flagged for 10 penalties, Nikiski seven, and the Bulldogs took advantage of great field position throughout the game.
The ball has not bounced Thunder Mountain’s way much this season. The Falcons have dealt with several crippling injuries to key players each week, but coach Bill Byouer said they aren’t making any excuses, especially concerning the lost fumbles.
“You practice in the rain and we don’t teach fumbling, but we did. We fumbled,” he said. “Injuries are theme of this season for us. We have a lot of kids out, but we haven’t quit. They haven’t quit, I haven’t quit and we’re going to continue to go forward and look to next weekend.
“It’s a difficult season. Last year we were 8-0 and every game, we all walked off the field happy,” he continued. “These kids now are experiencing something they don’t want to, but I’m sure it’s going to make them stronger.”
Nikiski racked up 329 yards rushing, including 150 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries by Kaden Spurgeon. Josh Brown added 98 yards and three touchdowns, also on 16 carries. Stephen Hartley chipped in 77 yards on 12 carries.
Both teams were slow out of the gate.
Nikiski drove all the way to the Thunder Mountain 16-yard line on its first possession but the Falcons’ defense held tough, with Matt Scramm batting down the fourth-and-4 pass by Bulldog quarterback Colton Anderson.
TMHS went three-and-out and nearly recovered a muffed punt, but the Bulldogs fell on it and took over at midfield.
Four plays later, Brown busted through the middle of the defense and ran 24 yards for the first touchdown of the game, giving Nikiski a 6-0 lead after the failed two-point conversion run.
Thunder Mountain quarterback Camden Thomas fumbled the snap on the Falcons’ first play of their next possession, recovered by Nikiski’s Lincoln Johnson at the TMHS 35-yard line.
The Bulldogs drove all the way to the Falcon 7-yard line but the Thunder Mountain defense once again held its ground.
Thomas then turned the ball over again after another fumble just as the Falcons were putting together a drive, moving 36 yards in eight plays. Thomas lost the ball and tried to pick it up but the Bulldogs’ Jesse Eide fell on it at the Thunder Mountain 25-yard line, giving Nikiski another short field.
Spurgeon ran it in from 26 yards out two plays later for a 12-0 Bulldog lead with 3:51 left in the first half.
Eric Reyna then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Nikiski again made the heads-up play, recovering the ball at the Thunder Mountain 15.
The Bulldogs took advantage and Spurgeon dove into the end zone from a few inches out four plays later, and Nikiski went ahead 20-0 after the successful two-point conversion pass from Anderson to Spurgeon.
The Bulldogs got the ball back after a turnover on downs by the Falcons, and Anderson found Sayyid Parrish in the end zone on a 30-yard completion, giving the Bulldogs a 28-0 lead heading into the break.
The play of the game to that point came as the Falcons’ took possession to start the second half. On fourth-and-11 from their own 39, Thomas dropped back and threw a perfect pass to Ben Jahn down the right sideline. Jahn made the catch and sprinted to the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown reception, making it a 28-6 game with nearly nine minutes left in the third quarter.
Jahn then recovered the kickoff after it bounced off a Bulldog’s leg, breathing life into Thunder Mountain sideline. But the Falcons couldn’t capitalize and turned it over on downs at midfield.
Nikiski then drove 50 yards, with Brown punctuating the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 34-6 lead.
Spurgeon then scored his third touchdown of the game, breaking a big 79-yard run after Nikiski intercepted a Thomas pass for a 40-6 lead with 2:04 left in the third quarter.
Brown then set the final score with a two-yard touchdown plunge late in the fourth quarter.
Anderson finished 4-for-9 for 69 yards and one 30-yard touchdown pass to Parrish for Nikiski.
Thomas went 14 of 27 for 171 yards for the Falcons, with one touchdown and one interception. Jahn had five catches for 98 yards and a score.
Thunder Mountain opens Southeast Conference play Saturday at Sitka.
How they scored
NHS — Brown 24 run (run failed)
NHS — Spurgeon 26 run (run failed)
NHS — Spurgeon 1 run (Spurgeon pass form Anderson)
NHS — Parrish 30 pass from Anderson (Spurgeon pass from Anderson)
TMHS — B. Jahn 61 pass from Thomas (pass failed)
NHS — Brown 12 run (pass failed)
NHS — Spurgeon 79 run (pass failed)
NHS — Brown 2 run (kick failed