By Lenny Sementi
Both senior running back Grant Hardwick and junior quarterback Payton Armstrong eclipsed the century mark on the ground but it was not enough as the Warriors fell to the state’s second ranked Bulldogs from Decatur St. Teresa 42-10. It was a tight contest for most of the evening until the home team busted it open with a few big plays late in the game.
Coach Andy Romine’s offense ate up the clock, running 69 plays while owning the time of possession by a little over a quarter. Armstrong totaled 114 yards on the ground on 30 carries and completed seven of 18 through the air for 38 yards and a score. Hardwick toted the rock for 106 yards on 18 carries with five of ten yards or more including a 31-yard jaunt early in the third quarter.
Tuscola posted the first points on the board against the Bulldogs all season long finishing off a 14-play five and a half minute drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Armstrong to junior TE Patrick Pierce. St. T answered on their second drive with a 26-yard TD run by Denim Cook. They added another on a 26-yard run by QB Cord Miller with six minutes left on the clock in the first half.
The Warriors took the ensuing kick and looked to knot it at 14’s putting together a ten-play drive to the Bulldog 31-yard line. That’s where it would end for the black and gold and gold gave up a 69-yard pick six pushing it to 21-7 St. T entering the break. The CIC heavyweights traded possessions before the Bulldogs busted it open with a pair of big plays ending any hope of a Tuscola comeback. Aiden Beachy rounded out Tuscola’s scoring on the evening with a 38-yard field goal through the middle of the uprights thanks to a great snap by Chris Boyd and placement by James Boyd.
The line backing crew comprised of Tyler Walker, Hardwick and Pierce led the charge on the defensive side of the ball. Pierce ended his night with a team best six tackles posting three solos and three assists. Seniors Walker and Hardwick weren’t far behind delivering four stops each while defensive lineman Haven Hatfield and C. Boyd each checked in with three tackles each.
“We are just short of being really good,” stated Romine. “Our first drive was great, but it seemed like we would have ten guys execute a play and the one that didn’t limits our ability to do things. We just can’t afford negative plays and penalties; they are drive killers when you have a small margin for error. Our effort is outstanding, we just need to eliminate the mistakes.”