Luna, Thorp lead TGU rout of Drake-Anamoose
TOWNER – The long offseason didn’t seem to slow down TGU quarterback Eli Luna or the Titans’ high-powered offense.
Luna completed 9 of 18 passes for 315 yards and six touchdowns and added 63 yards rushing in a 54-24 victory over Drake-Anamoose on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.
Luna dissected the Raiders’ secondary all night, with five passes going for more than 50 yards. The 5-foot-7, 145-pound junior missed on his first three passes, but shook off the slow start with a 20-yard completion to junior tight end Hunter Schell. He found his other tight end, Colter Thorp, for a 21-yard touchdown on the next play.
“When there’s no free safety over the top, it kind of opens it up for our guys because we’re pretty quick,” Luna said. “We get the ball out quick and it’s off to the races.”
The big plays kept coming for the Titans (1-0). With 3 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter, senior running back Kendal Green took the first handoff of the season and ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
D-A (0-1) threatened to make the game competitive when junior running back Garrett Uhlich scored on a 20-yard toss play to cut the TGU lead to 13-7. But Luna connected with Thorp a second time with 17 seconds remaining in the first half and Green added another touchdown from 14 yards just 29 seconds into the second half to break the game open. Green carried the ball six times for 112 yards.
“We saw a lot of good things out of our kids,” TGU coach Scott Thorson said. “We expected some of those things, but there were also some disappointing things that we have to work on. Lots of areas to focus on for our next game on Saturday.”
Luna was just warming up, as he tossed four more touchdowns in the second half totaling 168 yards – including a 61-yard strike to Thorp for his third score of the game. Thorp finished with three receptions for 135 yards.
“We watched their free safety in the first half,” Thorson said. “They had one free safety over the top, which you can’t defend two deep routes. The second half, they started playing our run game a bit more and minus the free safety, that left those guys open deep.”
Despite the gaudy numbers, Luna said there’s still work to be done.
“We haven’t really accomplished anything yet,” he said. “We still have nine games to go so we have to get better one game at a time and work hard in practice.”
The Raiders never got their passing game going, but D-A’s running backs found their gaps in the second half. Senior Darin McClintock rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Uhlich added 113 yards in the final two quarters, including an 84-yard dash in the fourth. The duo combined for 321 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
“We had a few bumps and bruises getting going, but overall I thought we had a good running attack,” D-A coach Chris Arnold said. “We had a lot of guys touching the ball and I saw a lot of good things out of my backs.”
North Dakota State commit Luke Bacon led the TGU defense with two sacks.
TGU plays at Parshall-White Shield at 5 p.m. Saturday while D-A hosts Dunseith at 7 p.m.
Mike Kraft covers racing, hockey and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.