OAKLAND - Tri-County made it official on Friday night. The Titans are the team to beat in the Little Okaw Valley Conference.
Tri-County, the No. 10 team in Class 1A, took the reigns with a thrilling 26-13 victory over Arcola.
The Titans took a lead they would not relinquish with a touchdown with 39 seconds left in the opening half and then answered the coach's plea in the second half. The Titans are undefeated at 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the LOVC.
"We challenged the line at halftime," said Tri-County coach Adam Clapp, who will celebrate his birthday today with the victory. "We felt like the first half was pretty evenly matched. Our guys took it to heart and really got off the ball. They just did a heck of a job all game.
"Give Arcola credit for making us do things that we didn't want to do at times. Arcola is the best team we have played so far and a lot of credit goes to them."
Arcola controlled the clock in the first half running 33 plays to the Titans 18. But Tri-County's defense stopped Arcola twice inside the 5 resulting in two Pedro Leal field goals.
The Titans' lone score in the first half occurred on a 1-yard run by Luke Clapp, who finished with 124 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. He had six carries for 27 yards at halftime.
"They took it to us all the way down the field, but our defense stood strong," said Clapp. "We felt fortunate to get away with them scoring just six points in the first half. They played really hard all the way to the end."
The missed chances came back to haunt Arcola.
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"You have got to take points when you can get them and we felt like in that situation we could get them," Arcola coach Gerald Temples said.
In the second half, the field position was reversed.
"Give Tri-County credit," Temples said. "They controlled the clock when they need to control the clock (used over five minutes before Tanner Bodle scored on a 3-yard run for the final points of the game). We couldn't get them stopped and they are a good football team."
T.J. Blake led Tri-County's defense with 12 tackles, while Michael Gobert had 10. Clapp and Dakota Kirchner had nine tackles each.
"It is nice to get a win on Homecoming," said Clapp. "There was a big crowd and great atmosphere. We can enjoy it for the weekend and then we have to get ready for Cerro Gordo."
Tri-County outgained Arcola 318-217. The 217 yards, was double the average the Titans had allowed per game.
Arcola (3-2 overall, 2-1 Little Okaw) travels to Villa Grove.
"Our kids are good kids and they will bounced back," said Temples. "We just have to get back to work to stay in teh race. You can't sit around and feel sorry for yourself."