OAKLAND — A traditional autumn season was not possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the wait to play continued after the opening night home game against Arcola was canceled due to …
OAKLAND — A traditional autumn season was not possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the wait to play continued after the opening night home game against Arcola was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols.
Once the Titans got onto the field they faced a formidable schedule of Lincoln Prairie Conference opponents while also battling through some injuries. The team was winless going into the final game of the season April 23 with a home game against the Sangamon Valley Storm.
It was Senior Night for four Titan players — Daniel Drake, Owen Knoebel, Tanner Pforr and Andrew Gernigin — and the last game for head coach Brian Anderson, who has accepted a football coaching position for North Gwinnett High School in Georgia next season.
Both the Titans and the Storm were seeking a first win of the season. Tri-County used a powerful run game and time management strategy to pull away for a 34-20 win and send Anderson out in style.
The Titans defense made a huge statement on the third play of the game at the 10:53 mark as a high snap by the Storm was picked up by Elijah Johnson at the 23, and he rumbled in from there for the opening touchdown. The extra point was missed giving the Titans a 6-0 lead. The Storm scored a touchdown later in the quarter, failed on the conversion, and tied the score at 6-6.
Tri-County’s second touchdown came just eight seconds into the second quarter when Daniel Drake ran 15 yards for a score. The two-point conversion failed making the score 12-6. Just 11 second later, Sangamon Valley scored on a 70-yard run, and with a successful conversion had the lead at 14-12.
The Titans then got a huge fumble recovery after turning the ball over on downs late in the quarter.Owen Knoebel busted through the Storm offensive line after a botched pitch and recovered deep in Sanganon Valley territory. Tri-County marched down the short field and capitalized as Drake powered in from two yards out with 1:36 left. Jack Armstrong punched in the two-point conversion and the Titans were back on top 20-14.
The TCT defense made another big play when Armstrong intercepted a pass deep in Titan territory to get the ball back and run out the clock heading into halftime with a six point lead.
Tri-County had possession starting the second half and went on a 7:05 drive and reached pay dirt again as Armstrong found Greg Reese who made a one-handed catch in the end zone for a score with 4:55 left. Wyatt Conner ran in the two-point conversion to make it 28-14. That score held through the rest of the quarter.
A deep Sangamon Valley drive late in the fourth quarter stopped when Blake Devore outbattled a Storm receiver to intercept the ball at the Titans 30-yard line. Sangamon Valley stopped the Titan drive deep in Storm territory. The Titan defense kept Tri-County moving after Dillon Bisby intercepted a tipped pass for possession.
With the ball back, the Titans capitalized with 3:16 left as Armstrong ran up the middle and powered four yards for a score. The two-point try was missed giving the Titans a 34-14 lead.
The Storm finished off the scoring with five seconds left as a high snap from the Storm 46-yard line that resulted in 54 yards for the score. The two-point try failed making the final score 34-20 in favor of Tri-County.
Daniel Drake unofficially ran 14 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with a leg injury with 8:39 left in the third quarter with. Blake Devore had 17 carries for 68 yards and two catches for 17 yards, and Wyatt Conner had eight touches for 50 yards. Jack Armstrong had two touchdown runs and was 4 of 8 passing for 27 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Greg Reese had two catches for 21 yards and a score. Devore, Armstrong and Dillon Bisby recorded an interception each while Owen Knoebel recorded a fumble recovery in the win.
The Titans finished the season at 1-4 overall and 1-4 in the Lincoln Prairie Conference.