Riders gallop to victory

By Tim Hendershot sportsfan122774@yahoo.com
Posted 9/19/22

OAKLAND — It wasn’t the way the Tri-County Titans envisioned Friday’s game against the Arcola Purple Riders would go.

Arcola came into the contest 1-2 after getting off to an …

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Riders gallop to victory


OAKLAND — It wasn’t the way the Tri-County Titans envisioned Friday’s game against the Arcola Purple Riders would go.

Arcola came into the contest 1-2 after getting off to an uncharacteristic 0-2 start. The Titans entered the game 2-1, pulling two come-from-behind wins and hoping to break the Arcola domination. The last time TCT dfeated the Purple Riders was 2011.

One big play turned all of those hopes upside down. 

After a competitive first 12 minutes, it was one play by Arcola that flipped the entire game in the Riders favor going on to a 46-14 win and leaving Tri-County to regroup in the process.

Arcola and Tri-County traded punts to start the game before the Riders struck first at the 6:43 mark in the first qusarter through the ground game their running back went 23 yards for the opening score.  The extra point was not good giving Arcola a 6-0 lead. 

After a three and out and a poor Titan punt the Riders had great field position at the Titans 20 yard line.Arcola hit the end zone.  The extra point to make the score 13-0. 

After the ensuing kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback, the Titans struck with one play as Gaige Cox took the hand off and found a hole and sprinted 80 yards for the touchdown with 3:55 left in the first.  The two-point conversion failed to cut the deficit down to 13-6. 

The Titans then pounced on defense causing a Rider fumble near the midfield stripe to get the ball back.  The Titans drove the ball down to the Arcola 21 yard line as time ran out on the first quarter of play with Tri-County having all of the momentum only down by seven points.

On the next play starting the second quarter, the Titans fumbled the football and the Riders recovered at their own 26. 

Arcola then went in an up-tempo no huddle offense going 74 yards down the field and capitalizing on the Tri-County turnover with 10:33.  The two-point conversion failed to make the score 19-6. 

With 7:18 remaining in the first half, the Riders scored again from one yard out. The point after was good and the Purple Ridger led 26-6. 

Arcola never let their foot off the gas the remainder of the first half, driving again and scoring with 4:38 left from twenty yards out.  Mendoza hit the extra point and the Riders were rolling up 33-6. 

The Titans fumbled again deep in their own territory. Arcola capitalized using a little double reverse and throw a for a six yard touchdown pass.  The extra point failed making the score 39-6 at that point.

The Riders then put the exclamation point on the game with 2:01 left in the second quarter through the air once again with an 18-yard touchdown. The extra point by Mendoza made the tally 46-6.  That score held up as the teams went into the locker room.

The game then went into a running clock situation for the entire second half as no points were tallied in the third quarter.

The Titans showed a never quit attitude methodically going down the field through the run game and getting back on the board with 9:23 left as Cox scampered in from 26 yards out bringing about the eventually final score 46-14. 

The fumble in Riders territory in the second quarter that shifted the momentum is what Head Coach TJ Blake thought changed the course of the contest.

“We were moving the ball and we were only down by a score at that point, Coach TJ Blake said. “We got it in the red zone and fumbled. It was just a swing of momentum at that point, and unfortunately our guys weren’t able to respond to the momentum change, and obviously that kind of killed us.  There’s nothing we can do other than just keep staying positive and get back to work this coming week.”

Unofficially, Gaige Cox had 12 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns while Tyler VonLanken added 19 carries for 73 yards. This type of production is something Coach Blake says will be a building block going into the start of the three game road trip next week to help get them better going forward.

“We go in the film room and look at what we did right and we look at what we did wrong and we try to fix the things that we did wrong,”  he added.  “Everything that went wrong against us are things that we can change.  Those are things that we are in control of.  We can do it.  Our guys, we’re pretty strong minded I feel like.  We can’t have a collapse like that like we did in a game where the momentum shifts.  We’ll be better for next week and watch ourselves.  The only thing we can do is get better.”

The Titans (2-2, 1-1 LPC) will travel to Wilson Field in Arthur Friday to face the Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond Knights and their Illinois recruit Kayden Fagan in a Lincoln Prairie Conference contest.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.