ARCOLA — With less than a minute remaining in Friday night’s Tuscola-Arcola football game, the Purple Riders’ public address announcer stated what everyone in attendance was thinking.
“No matter what happens,” he said, “This is what the Cola Wars game is all about.”
It was only when Jacob Kibler leaped to knock down a Beau Jones heave in the closing seconds that the visiting Warriors had this edition in the bag. A 72-yard touchdown pass from Tuscola quarterback Logan Tabeling — who went 22 of 40 for 371 passing yards and rushed for 94 yards on 22 carries — to Jalen Quinn with 7:15 left was the decisive blow in a 45-42 Tuscola triumph that saw Arcola rally from a 17-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to twice pull within three points.
Grant Hardwick rushed for a pair of scores for Tuscola (2-0), and Brandon Douglas had 10 catches for 188 yards. For the Purple Riders (1-1), Jones went 10 of 24 for 302 yards and four touchdowns, with Ivan Franco hauling in two scores. Diego Perez, who had 158 receiving yards, also returned a punt 72 yards on a night where four lead changes happened in the first half.
“It reminded me of like a Sugar Ray Leonard fight in the 1980s,” Tuscola coach Andy Romine said. “It wasn’t two teams dancing out in the middle of the ring throwing a jab here and a jab there. It was just haymaker after haymaker after haymaker.”