From its first snap, the Discovery Canyon football team was all about a run-first, grind-it-out offense that strives for first down after first down.
The Thunder were relentless against Lewis-Palmer on Friday night and came away with a 32-20 win at Don Breese Stadium to improve to 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the 3A Southern League.
The Rangers dropped to 1-6 and 0-2.
But it wasn’t just about the offense on this night.
“I really think it came down to playing some really good defense,” Discovery Canyon coach Shawn Mitchell said. “I think if we can make them one dimensional, you have more success.”
The Thunder had only a 13-0 halftime lead, thanks, in part, to field goals of 31 and 20 by Griffin Anderson and Cory Gurnett.
In the second half, the Thunder kept pounding the ball. But the dynamics of their offense changed every time Caleb Grotelueschen touched the ball. He finished with 119 yards on just five carries, but two of them turned into scores from 51 and 56 yards.
On his first touchdown, which put the Thunder ahead 20-0, the senior running back jetted toward the right sideline before he made a complete stop about 30 yards in and shifted his body in the other direction. It was a show-stopping run, and even his coach was impressed.
“We don’t always see that from him at practice,” Mitchell said.
“I think underneath the lights, out here on Friday night, I think that’s something he can do. He’s going to try to make plays. He’s not going to run out of bounds, he’s not going to shy away from contact.”
Lewis-Palmer cut the lead to 20-6 with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the third quarter, thanks to a 2-yard run touchdown by Patrick Haggard.
Discovery Canyon quarterback Zachary Anderson scored his second touchdown in the final quarter, and Grotelueschen ran in his second score to put the Thunder up 32-14.
The Rangers made it interesting but didn’t have enough time. Lewis-Palmer quarterback Colton Baroni threw a 50-yard score to Jordan Pshigoda, and speedy running Dieudonne Chea rushed in a 15-yard touchdown with 2:11 left.
In the end, it was the Thunder’s running game that made the difference. They controlled the first half, running 46 plays compared to just 10 by Lewis-Palmer.
“We came out playing fast, and just stayed playing fast,” Grotelueschen said.