Central A&M came out firing and never slowed down upending the third ranked Warriors 49-14 in a battle of top five state ranked teams. Tuscola entered the contest ranked third, while the Raiders were one spot back in fourth, both entering the contest unbeaten on the season boasting a combined 4-0 after the non-conference portion of the season.
Tuscola got off to a slow start on both sides of the ball, and A&M took full advantage producing 21 points in each of the first two quarters entering the break on top 42-7. The Raiders racked up 229 yards on the ground hitting both inside and outside on just 24 carries to gain more than 10 yards per tote a week after the Warriors limited Arcola’s vaunted running game to less than 100 yards. A&M took to the air as well completing 8 of 12 through the air for 106 yards and two scores.
The visitors worked on a short field most of the evening with their average drive starting inside Warrior territory. A&M’s first possession at Tuscola’s 31-yard line following an 8-yard punt, and five plays later they reached pay dirt on a 5-yard run by quarterback Connor Heaton. He went in again a few minutes later on a 1-yard plunge to make it 14-0 before the Raiders took an interception 67 yard to the house pushing the lead to 21-0.
The Warriors put together a scoring drive early in the second frame that culminated with a scoring strike from Logan Tabeling to Brandon Douglas cutting the lead to 14 at 21-7. Two plays later A&M reeled off a 71-yard TD run, pushing their advantage back to 21. They added two more scores before the break on a interception and a QB jaunt over the right side to enter the locker rooms on top 42-7. The two teams traded scores after the break, ending the highly touted game with Tuscola falling to 2-1 on the year losing just its second regular season game in coach Andy Romine’s term as head coach.
Tabeling led the Warriors on the ground gaining 47 yards on nine carries. The Warriors were limited to under 100 yards on the ground for the first time this season gaining 93 yards on 24 attempts. He connected on 19 of 36 through the air for 189 yards and two scores. Brandon Douglas and Jalen Quinn both hauled in six catches apiece. Douglas garnered 59 yards, while Quinn accounted for 82 yards. Ben Dixon had three grabs for 25 yards, and classmates Jake Kibler and Lucas Kresin combined for three receptions for 32 yards.
“We couldn’t flip the field position all night long,” stated Romine. “And that hurt us, but in the end they out executed us when they needed to. As a group, we will take responsibility for what went wrong and learn from this.”
Sophomore inside linebacker Patrick Pierce, Kibler, and Gibson Wells led the way on defense each adding four tackles to their season wrap sheet. All four of Pierces’ were solo stops. Lucas Kresin, Tabeling, Douglas, Jonah Pierce, and Grant Hardwick showed up next on the list with three stops to their credit. Quinn notched an interception for the third consecutive week.
It doesn’t get any easier for the boys in black and gold. The Warriors travel to St. Teresa on Friday night for a date with the class 2A fifth ranked Bulldogs. St. T enters the contest unbeaten and holds a big time lopsided win over a very good Tri-Valley squad in week one on the road.