Senior defensive back Brandon Douglas shined in his first official varsity start at safety for Tuscola’s gridiron team, but his herculean efforts were not enough. The Warriors fell on the road despite a gritty effort 28-12 to the class 2A’s fourth ranked Bulldogs of Decatur St. Teresa. It was the first time since 2012 that the boys in black and gold fell in consecutive weeks after falling to 1A’s third ranked A&M Raiders a week prior. It was also the first time head coach Andy Romine’s group suffered two regular seasons losses during his five-year tenure.
Douglas led all on the defensive side of the ball for Romine securing a game high 21 tackles. The senior filled down hill both inside and out.
“Brandon’s defensive game was outstanding,” stated Romine. “He sacrificed his body at times to make the stop. Overall, our guys gave a big time effort, but we struggled with their aggressive zero man defensive attack. I didn’t sleep last night knowing that if we had early success against what they did that they would turn to man across the board and designate seven in the box to stop the run and rush the pass.”
Warrior signal caller Logan Tabeling and his guys did just that culminating a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ate up nearly half of the first quarter with a 1-yard plunge by the physical QB. Aiden Beachy’s point after sailed right putting the Warriors on top 6-0 with 6:25 left in the first. The Bulldogs answered quickly by hitting a 69-yard scoring scamper over the left side on their first play from scrimmage and after the point after cleared the up rights St. T. moved in front by one 7-6.
The two Central Illinois Conference heavyweights traded possessions before the Bulldogs took advantage of a short field and found the promise land for the second time on a 3-yard plunge, upping the lead to eight 14-6 with 8:32 left in the half. Another short field proved to be too much for Tuscola’s defense as St. T boosted their lead to 21-6 with a 10-play, 44-yard drive scoring drive.
Romine’s crew did the same thing following a forced fumble by big Mike Calderon that gave the Warriors the ball on the Bulldogs 37-yards line with 1:36 left in the second. Romine dialed up, and Tabeling orchestrated the two-minute offense to perfection punching a 1-yard run with .8 seconds left on the clock cutting the lead to 21-12 heading into the break.
“That was a big answer for us entering the break,” Romine commented. “We are grinding, and St. T. is a good football team, for that matter, the last three weeks’ games have all been tough, but with that being said we need to do a better job of executing, and I need to get in a better flow calling plays.”
The Warriors were aided by a Grant Hardwick interception in the third but were unable to capitalize as neither team threatened in the third. St. T. went up by two scores however early in the fourth, making it 28-12 as the Bulldogs ground out a score on a 12-play drive. Tuscola was unable to manage must offense against the blitz happy Dogs with two stalled drives as the Warriors dropped to 2-2 on the year and 0-1 in the CIC.
Tuscola owned a 3-minute time of possession advantage despite being limited to just 17 yards on 18 carries. Tabeling was tops with 13 yards on 12 tries, scoring twice. He led the way through the air also finding six different receivers on 15 of 33 passing for 167 yards. Douglas hauled in six balls for 72 yards, while Jalen Quinn grabbed four for 21 yards. Ben Dixon, Jacob Kibler and Hardwick all had two catches for a combined 64 yards.
Like Douglas, middle linebacker Jonah Pierce found his way into double-digit tackles securing 10 stops. Ashton Jones was next up with five including one for loss, while Tabeling, Lucas Kresin, Hardwick and Hans Goodmann donated four tackles apiece.
“The guys efforts are going to pay off, we have another tough one this week and will need to execute better, but, in the long run, we are going to be OK,” commented the coach. Clinton comes to town on Friday for Tuscola’s homecoming boasting a 4-0 unbeaten record it will be the fourth consecutive team the Warriors have lined up against without a defeat at the start of the contest.