Tuscola’s football team opened the season with back to back road games against state ranked opponents and then hosted one of the best 1A teams out of Indiana Parke-Heritage this past Friday. For the second week in a row coach Andy Romine’s black and gold had victory stolen away falling to the visiting Wolves in the waning seconds dropping to 1-2 on the year.
Tuscola fell behind 19-0 at Cumberland a week ago, rallied to take the lead late in the fourth only to watch the Pirates steal the win on their final drive. This past Friday it was déjà vue as the Wolves tied it up late in the final stanza and then sealed the deal scoring with two seconds left to collect the win.
Warrior coach Andy Romine was informed Tuesday morning that Sullivan was cancelling their varsity schedule due to low numbers and he and athletic director Ryan Hornaday went to work. “I told the guys we could take the forfeit but that’s not us, Parke Heritage is a very good team and it’s the right game for us. You guys deserve to play and we are going to play. This game will pay dividends later in the season. They had some great skill players and were very good on the perimeter on both sides of the ball. It was a great high school football game.”
Romine called on his offensive line and senior quarterback Peyton Armstrong to shorten the game with a power ground game. Armstrong ended the night with 232 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries following the lead blocks of fellow seniors and backfield mates Patrick Pierce and Caden Baer. Pierce did some damage at the line of scrimmage as well averaging just over five yards a carry gaining 21 yards on five carries. Hunter Branca found his way to 22 yards on three tries while Jordan Quinn ripped off a 17-yard jaunt midway through the second half.
Armstrong connected on five of ten passes for 46 yards and a touchdown finding Quinn on a tight-end go route into the east end zone. The sophomore hauled in two passes for 33 yards while Baer, Pierce and Eric Badgett all grabbed one out of the air.
Pierce made a big play out of the gate stripping a ball on the opening kickoff and five plays later the Warriors got on the board with a five-yard run up the middle by Armstrong. Keller Beachy followed with the point after making it 7-0 good guys. The freshman kicker was good on all four attempts in the game. Parke Heritage fired back with a pair of big touchdown passes in a short span owning a 14-7 lead after one quarter of action.
Tyson Macauley picked up a fumble after a big hit by Pierce midway through the second setting up a five-yard Armstrong scoring scamper knotting it at 14’s and that’s where it stayed entering the break. After punts by both teams Tuscola retook the lead on a ten-yard TD run by Armstrong following a fumble recovery by Jordan Quinn making 21-14 Warriors with 1:32 left in the third. The Wolves answered on the ensuing drive on a 25-yard TD pass entering the final 12 minutes up on top by one following a successful two point conversion.
Tuscola once forced a turnover and after runs by Armstrong and Pierce the senior signal caller found Quinn on a 13-yard go route or the middle to put Romine’s squad back in front 28-22. But like a week ago two big plays down the stretch sealed the deal on a 36-28 Wolves victory dropping the Warriors to 1-2 on the year.
For the third straight week Pierce led the defense in tackles from his middle linebacker position securing eight stops, seven of which were solos. Defensive end Chris Boyd and outside linebacker Tyson Macauley were next up with seven tackles each. The weak side duo were part of all five of the Warrior sacks.
“I’ve never been prouder of our team,” stated Romine. “Our guys went toe to toe with one of the best out of Indiana and never wavered. Their effort was off the charts.”