ZUMBROTA — On a cold and blustery day in southeast Minnesota, the two football teams taking the field in Zumbrota seemingly matched those characteristics. The Cougars offense couldn't heat up and find its groove, and Lourdes was frequently blowing past Z-M defenders en route to the Eagles' 42-0 win on Thursday.
The tone for the game was set right away as Z-M fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff to give Lourdes the ball 22 yards away from the endzone. On the next play, Nolan Jurgenson ran in for a touchdown and Julio Roman hit the extra point to give Lourdes a 7-0 lead only 18 seconds into the first quarter.
In Z-M's first three drives, opportunities were left on the field as they punted once and couldn't convert on fourth down twice — one of which was inside Lourdes 35-yard line. On the other hand, during that span of game time Lourdes built their lead up to 21-0 with another pair of Jurgenson rushing towndowns.
The Cougars had a great chance at trimming the lead in the final minutes of the first half but were stopped inside Lourdes 10-yard line as the clock hit zeroes to bring the teams to halftime.
Facing a three-score deficit to start the third quarter, Z-M knew it had to start fast. Instead, Lourdes was the team to make the first splash play, returning the kickoff to Z-M's 6-yard line. On the next play Jurgenson ran it in for his fourth touchdown of the day to give Lourdes a 28-0 lead just 17 seconds into the second half.
Asked about the challenges involved with giving up big plays to start off both halves, Z-M head football coach Darin Raasch called them "momentum sappers."
"In life you have to overcome things and sometimes the first step is the hardest then all the sudden you face adversity right off the bat," Raasch said. "But, fighting adversity is just the way of life right now."
Z-M started the half on offense much like it performed in the first half — a punt and failed fourth down conversions. Lourdes meanwhile, continued its quick strike mentality.
Noah Wieneke ran in a 4-yard touchdown on Lourdes second drive of the half and then after Graham Hopkins intercepted a Willie Holm III pass, Abe Gapinski took the ball 74 yards to give Lourdes a 42-0 lead with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.
"Lourdes is a fast football team. They’ve got kids that can move," Raasch said. "Their defense flew to the ball in the perimeter — their running backs, when they hit the hole, they hit the hole hard.
"Coach Kesler does a great job and the kids are fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. They are a challenging team to deal with."
Z-M, 0-2, travels to Chatfield next Friday.
For Z-M, Willie Holm III went 7-for-17 with 60 yards. Tre Hamilton led the ground attack with 60 yards on 18 carries. Holm added another 45 yards on nine carries. Ethan Kovars caught three balls for 24 yards to lead the receiving corps. Tanner Gates added 16 yards on one catch as well.