ARCOLA — In a game that had nine combined turnovers, including eight interceptions, it was the Arcola defense that stood out.
The Purple Riders blanked South Beloit 42-0 Saturday at Thomas-Bradford Field, holding the Sobos to 57 total yards and four first downs.
"It was kind of hard to prepare for them because you don't know for sure what they are going to come out in and what they are going to run," said Arcola coach Nick Lindsey. "I was really happy with how our inside six played. They had some big skill kids that I thought would be a tough matchup. So, we prepared for that a little bit. I was very happy with how we handled them in the secondary."
Arcola's offense overcame five turnovers and gained 535 yards, including 411 on the ground. Austin Hopkins, who had 1,003 yards rushing last years, finished with 19 carries for 213 yards and three touchdowns. He had nine carries for 150 yards and the three touchdowns in the second half. Ivan Franco had four carries for 63 yards and a touchdown, and also four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns, both from Beau Jones.
Arcola was able to run up the middle with relative ease, especially in the second half.
"Eventually we just wore down as we kept going," said South Beloit coach Sam Cady. "They were able to rotate guys in and keep their guys fresh and eventually we just got ourselves gassed."
The Sobos never had a drive that got closer than the Arcola 29, and that drive of 26 yards in the second quarter ended with an interception by Ben Crane in the end zone. South Beoit quarterback Danny Passialis had a 25-yard run, which was the longest gain for the Sobos during the drive.
Only two of the 14 drives by Arcola ended in its own territory.
"I think that we got sloppy at times and we are not nearly where we need to be up front," said Lindsey. "I thought that we kind of got up by a couple of scores and we tried to force a couple of things. Overall I thought physically we started to take over a little bit in the second half. I was pleased overall with the game."
Arcola led 14-0 when it started what turned out to be its final drive of the first half on the Sobos' 20. The Purple Riders marched 80 yards in eight plays and scored with just 26.4 seconds left in the half.
Hopkins gained 14 yards on the first play and Dale Still kept the drive alive by picking up first down on a fourth-and-three on Arcola's own 44 with a gain of seven. He gained eight yards three plays later for a first down. On the very next play, Jones hit Ivan Franco over the middle and Franco raced in for the touchdown, completing the 33-yard touchdown strike. Franco booted the extra point as the Purple Riders began to pull away.
Arcola will travel to Tuscola for the 105th edition of the 'Cola War' game. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field.