State Finals | Le-Win vs Tuscola
The Class 1A State Championship Game is a rematch of the 2010 game, where Le-Win beat Tuscola 47-14 in Champaign. This year Tuscola and Lena-Winslow both came into the game with matching 13-0 undefeated records, rolling through the season, and the playoffs, but both found tough competition in the semifinals with Athens and Forreston respectively, as Class 1A proved to have the best 4 teams advance to the final four and the shot at state. Tuscola beat Athens 21-14, while Lena-Winslow beat defending champ Forreston 12-8 to set up this game.
This is the fourth time that Tuscola has faced an NUIC opponent at the state finals, and were 0-3 heading into this game with losses to Galena in 2007 (35-7), Lena-Winslow in 2010 (47-14), and Dakota in 2011 (41-27.)
Tuscola started the game with the opening drive, but were forced to punt. On the ensuing punt, Le-Win fumbled the return, and it was recovered by Dalton Hoel for Tuscola at the Le-Win 19. Three plays later, with Tuscola at the Le-Win 7, it was the Panthers causing a fumble with Isaiah Bruce recovering at the Le-Win 5 yard line. Then Tuscola would force a 3 and out and a punt.
Taking over on the Le-Win 31 yard line with 6:30 to go Tuscola would be forced into a 3rd and 9. On the ensuing pass, Sean Ormiston picked off the Sluder pass, but a pass interference call negated that and gave the Warriors a first down. With three more plays under their belt it was Andrew Erickson punching it in from 5 yards out to give Tuscola a 7-0 lead after the PAT was good with 4:16 to go in the 1st quarter.
Le-Win would take their 2nd possession from their own 28 yard line. A big play from a Ty Chrisman to Isaiah Bruce pass play pushed the ball to midfield. But a fumble by Le-Win on the next play was recovered by Cale Sementi for Tuscola a their own 49 yard line.
The Warriors would take their 3rd possession from midfield, but a strong Le-Win pass rush moved the Warriors backwards, and forced a punt. Le-Win would take over from their own 38 yard line. A couple plays later it was Ty Chrisman hooking up with Isaiah Bruce again, this time for a 72 yard TD pass. The ensuing PAT by Parker Magee was good to tie the game at 7 with 1:00 left in the 1st quarter.
Starting the 2nd quarter Tuscola had the ball at their own 42 yard line. The Le-Win defense would stifle the Warrior offense and force a punt. On the ensuing play from their own 34 yard line, Le-Win's Rahveon Valentine would break loose for a 76 yard TD run giving Le-Win a 14-7 lead with 10:49 to go in the 2nd quarter.
The Warriors would start to go back on the drive, moving the ball quickly with a few pass plays from Sluder, pushing the Warriors to the Le-Win 36 yard line. Once again the Le-Win defense would stop the Warrior offense on a 4th down stop. The following play saw Sean Ormiston bust off a 50 yard run, that would set up the Valentine 22 yard TD run. The Magee PAT was good, and Le-Win took the lead 21-7 with 7:09 left in the 1st half.
Tuscola would start another drive from their own 35 yard line, but a 3rd and 7 set up a pass opportunity, and Le-Win DE Parker Magee busted through for a sack. Le-Win would force the punt and start the following drive at their own 42 yard line. Faced with a 4th and 2, Le-Win Coach Arand put his offense on the field at the Tuscola 36 yard line. Valentine would put up a big run inside the Tuscola 10 yard line, but a holding penalty negated that run forcing a 4th and 13. Le-Win would punt the ball with 1:34 left in the half.
With a 1:29 remaining Tuscola would take over at their own 29 yard line. A big play from Sluder to Haden Cothron was destined for the end zone, but Cothron dropped the ball. The very next play would push Tuscola back 10 yards, with a sack by Sean Ormiston. Being forced to punt with 32 seconds left from their own 25 yard line would give Le-Win the ball at midfield, where Chrisman would take a knee to end the half. Le-Win would take a 21-7 lead into half.
The Panthers would start the 2nd half with the ball, beginning at their own 22 yard line. A strong Warrior defense would force Le-Win to punt. A bad punt by Le-Win would give Tuscola the ball at the Le-Win 34 yard line for their first possession of the second half. Tuscola would get a first down on a 4th and 1 and move the Warriors to the Panther 21 yard line. A big run by Andrew Erickson for 17 yards set up the Warriors at the Le-Win 4 yard line. The following play saw Sluder hit Dalton Hoel for a 4 yard TD pass. After the PAT, Tuscola would close the gap to 21-14 with 4:57 left in the 3rd quarter.
After another booming kickoff by Cade Kresin, the Panthers would begin drive number 2 from their own 20 yard line. Another Le-Win fumble would be recovered by Tuscola at the Le-Win 39 yard line. A big play from Sluder to Hoel was good for an 18 yard gain and a first down for Tuscola inside Le-Win's 10 yard line. Faced with a 4th and goal at the Le-Win 5 yard line, Sluder would roll out and connect with Cale Sementi for a 5 yard TD pass. The PAT attempt by Kresin was no good, as a bad snap forced Hoel to run with it, keeping Le-Win in the lead 21-20 with 42 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Le-Win started the 4th quarter at their own 25 yard line, facing a 2nd and 5. A big 4th down play run by Ty Chrisman gave Le-Win a 1st down. A missed pass from Chrisman to Bruce on a 3rd and 13 would be overthrown, forcing Le-Win to punt. A huge punt from Parker Magee would change field position and set up Tuscola at their own 29 with 8:31 to play.
Tuscola would then drive to their own 44 before being forced to punt. After exchanging punts, Tuscola would take over with 2:33 left in the game, but would immediately throw an interception to Gaige Schwartz, but another Le-Win fumble gave the ball right back to the Warriors with 2:14 to play.
Tuscola would drive from their own 23 yard line and chew up 2:04 off the clock before failing to convert a 4th and 1 from the Le-Win 29 yard line, giving the ball back to the Panthers with 10 seconds remaining. From there Chrisman would take a knee and give Le-Win their 3rd state title in the past 8 seasons with a 21-20 victory.
For the game Le-Win would put up 319 yards while holding Tuscola to 229 yards. Le-Win running back Rahveon Valentine would rush the ball 19 times for 144 yards and 2 TD. Sean Ormiston would add 79 yards on the ground on 9 carries. Ty Chrisman was 2-5 passing for 88 yards and 1 TD, while Isaiah Bruce caught both those passes for 88 yards and 1 TD.
For Tuscola, Luke Sluder was 12-32 passing for 116 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT. He also chipped in 53 yards rushing on 22 carries. His leading receiver was Dalton Hoel with 8 receptions for 75 yards and 1 TD. Andrew Erickson had 12 carries for 73 yards and 1 TD.
Tuscola ends their season at 13-1.
For Le-Win, they finish undefeated at 14-0 for the first time in school history. With the win Le-Win Head Coach Ric Arand ties Jerry Lano at number 3 on the NUIC all-time wins list with 179 wins.