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Arcola / Tuscola Football 08/31/18

Arcola ball carrier Austin Hopkins looks to avoid Tuscola's defense during the 105th playing of the Cola Wars on Friday.

TUSCOLA — Tuscola picked up where it left off in the Cola Wars.

The Warriors beat Arcola 34-0 to win for the 12th straight time in 106th meeting of the two Douglas County rivals. It was the first meeting of the two teams since the 2011 playoffs.

Tuscola's defense held Arcola without a first down until 6:30 remained in the first half and the Warriors took advantage of good field position.

"It took us awhile to get going, and it seemed like we would get a penalty or drop a snap or something like that," Arcola coach Nick Lindsey said. "Against a team like that, you have to win the field position battle. Overall I could not be more proud of the way our kids played. We played hard. We just had a couple of overruns defensively in the first half to give up big plays. It was a really physical game, and up front I thought we played pretty well. They are a little deeper than we are. Tuscola is a heck of a football team, too."

Tuscola led 20-0 at the half, but Arcola had its longest drive of the game going when the Purple Riders fumbled at the Warriors' 45 and Gage Russell ran 55 yards for the score. Cade Kresin's extra point made it 27-0 with 5:36 left in the third and all but wrapped up the victory.

"I have a lot of confidence in my kids up front," Tuscola coach Andy Romine said. "They had a kid who knifed inside and we got down to fourth and a yard-in-a-half later in that drive, and I feel like our kicking game is pretty good. So we punted the ball to them and got them in a three-and-out and gained 22 yards in that exchange. When you are confident in your kicking game, we will do that. I think field position played a big part in the first half."

Romine said he had two key takeaways from the game.

"No. 1, their defensive line is very good," Romine said. "Their defense end is well schooled and very good. That gave us some problems. Secondly, we only had three possessions in the second half and fumbled one of them at their five (Kaleb Byard recovered for the Purple Riders). At some point in time, those can cost you games. Fortunately for us tonight, they didn't."

The Warriors scored on their second possession of the game when Matthew Cantu raced up the middle 49 yards for the touchdown with 6:07 left. Kresin booted the extra point for the Warriors' 7-0 lead.

In the first half, the Warriors average starting drive was the Arcola 48, while the Purple Riders was their own 23.

The Warriors put together a 35-yard, nine-play drive that culminated with a 21-yard field goal by Kresin.

Arcola's defense stopped Tuscola three times inside the Purple Rider 10.

Tuscola's second touchdown occurred on the second play of a drive that started at the Arcola 40. Luke Sluder ran 29 yards in for the touchdowns and Kresin's extra point made it 17-0 with 7:56 left in the half.

Arcola's Dale Still gained seven yards for the Purple Riders' first first down of the game. Arcola picked up one more before turning the ball over on downs on a fourth and seven.

Still got dinged up in the third quarter and that prevented him from playing quarterback.

"He brings a little more physical threat to our offense and we got going a little bit when he played," said Lindsey. "Overall I thought we played well. It was just the turnover here and there. A couple of times we turned the ball over deep in our zone and we stood up defensively. I was proud of how resilient we were, and that was kind of our word of the week."

Cantu had 15 carries for 98 yards for Tuscola, while Sluder had 15 for 97 yards and both had a touchdown each.

Austin Hopkins led Arcola in rushing with 25 carries for 94 yards.

Tuscola outgained Arcola 309-153.

Arcola will be in a 10-team football conference next season, and so it was thought that Friday's game would be the only Arcola vs. Tuscola regular season game. However, Farmer City Blue Ridge — a team that will join the conference in football next year — has a contract with the Oblong football co-op next year and is in a contract for the next three years with Martinsville. The 106th meeting of Arcola and Tuscola will be Sept. 6, 2019, at Arcola's Thomas-Bradford Field.

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Contact Mike Monahan at (217) 238-6854.

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