KETCHIKAN - Thunder Mountain running backs Ben Hotch and Gary Speck combined for 171 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and the Falcons scored on their first three possessions to beat Ketchikan 30-14 in Ketchikan on Saturday night.
Heavy rain fell steadily throughout the contest, limiting the offensive capabilities of both teams. But Thunder Mountain managed to gain 287 yards of total offense, holding the Kings to 158 total yards, en route to its first-ever win.
"We're all pumped. We felt this coming," Thunder Mountain coach Bill Byouer said. "We came together in Kodiak, and it showed tonight."
Thunder Mountain lost 48-20 to Kodiak last Saturday, but after allowing the Bears to score on each of their first three possessions, the Falcons held their own. Byouer called that game his team's "coming-out party."
Saturday, it was the Falcons that got off to a quick start, recovering a fumble from KayHi running back Hans Hubbard on the game's second play. Thunder Mountain used its running game to execute an 11-play, 45-yard drive without a single pass, ending with an inside handoff to Speck for a 2-yard touchdown run. The Falcons' successful two-point conversion made the score 8-0.
"I was expecting (Thunder Mountain) to run a lot," KayHi quarterback Nikk Ulrigg said. "I wasn't sure how their quarterback was going to do with our weather, but he seemed to do pretty good."
Thunder Mountain struck again early in the second half, still relying on a strong ground attack. One play after quarterback Camden Thomas threw an incomplete pass on his first attempt of the game, Hotch rumbled in from 16-yards out to put the Falcons up 14-0. Another successful two-point conversion put the Kings in a 16-0 hole.
"Ben Hotch, just ran the heck out of the ball ... and Gary Speck was running the ball well," Byouer said. "We could see where we had holes. They gave them to us and we were able to take advantage of it."
Thunder Mountain pushed the score to 22-0 on a quarterback sneak by Thomas later in the second quarter, but KayHi closed the gap to 22-6 when Luke Purschwitz took the ensuing kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown. Purschwitz initially fumbled the ball, but managed to squeeze past Thunder Mountain's defense on the broken play.
Ulrigg connected with tight end Andrew Bolton on a 25-yard touchdown pass just before the half that brought the Kings within eight points at 22-14. Ulrigg finished the game with 160 yards passing and eight completions on 17 attempts. Bolton racked up 162 receiving yards.
"After we got to the locker room, we were all pumped," Ulrigg said. "At 22-14, we were only down eight points."
But Thunder Mountain answered right back on its first drive of the second half, orchestrating a 13-play, 76-yard drive that culminated with Speck's second touchdown of the game.
Speck finished the game with 47 yards rushing, 51 yards receiving and two rushing touchdowns. Hotch racked up 124 yards rushing and one score. As a team, Thunder Mountain rushed for 176 yards. Thomas rushed for three yards and one touchdown. He attempted just three passes, completing two, for 51 yards through the air.