CONCORD — In the second round of the Illinois High School Association Class 1A football game Saturday at Don Kemp Field, Concord Triopia/Meredosia-Chambersburg/Virginia's defense held Arcola to just 60 yards of total offense and handed the Purple Riders a 42-0 loss.
Arcola finishes its season at 8-3, while the Trojans move to 10-1 and are to travel to Camp Point Central, a team that beat Carrollton 31-6. Concord Triopia, Camp Point Central and Carrollton are all members of the Western Illinois Valley North Division.
"They did a good job taking us away on the edge," said Arcola coach Nick Lindsey. "Our perimeter game wasn't as good as it had been in the past. We never could get a rhythm, and this time of year that is what it is all about — making plays when you have the opportunity and not shooting yourself in the foot (high snaps, mishandled snaps, fumbles) and we did that today."
Concord's Zach Thompson, the son of coach Rich Thompson, finished with 22 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns, while Michael Burns had 15 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns. The Trojans finished with 325 yards.
"Our offense was great, but our defense was even better today," said coach Thompson. "The defense has just got better and better since the Beardstown game. Beardstown (a Class 3A playoff team) is a tough team and they scored 34 on us (Concord won 35-34), which doesn't look that impressive, but we kept a darn good defense form running up and down the field all night. Then they realized 'hey, we can play physical football.' We played it very well last week against a very big Georgetown-Ridge Farm team that is physical.
"It was a different animal today. I think Arcola likes to run first and they are a power running team inside, but once we shut that down they had to throw, and when they did throw we were right where we needed to be. We gave up a couple of little short passes, but our game plan is we will allow you to catch it in front of us, and then we are going to come and punish you. That is what our kids are believing in right now."
The Trojans also ran 59 plays to the Purple Riders' 36 as they controlled the clock.
Concord received the opening kickoff and marched 66 yards in 11 plays with the big play being a 20-yard run to the left side by Burns. Thompson scored on an 11-yard run, and Dawsen Lemons kicked the first of six extra points.
After the first of three three-and-outs in the game, Concord was faced with a fourth and eight from the Purple Rider 30. Brady Beard caught a Shawn Bell pass over the middle and appeared to be going to score, then the ball slipped out of his hands (it rained some of the opening quarter and a half) and through the end zone for a touchback.
Arcola, who started against the wind, had a zero-yard punt after the first play resulted in a loss of 17 after a high snap.
Concord took over at the Purple Rider 15 and on third and seven Thompson ran for seven yards and a first down. Two plays later Thompson scored on a two-yard run. Lemons booted the extra point for a 14-0 lead with 9:56 left in the half.
Arcola put together its best drive of the game starting on its own 43. Beau Jones completed an 11-yard pass to Ivan Franco and Dale Still kept the drive alive by gaining two yards on a fourth and one from the Trojans 38. Jones and Franco hooked up again for 13 yards and a first down. However, after three plays netted six yards, a fourth-and-6 pass from the Concord in the end zone fell incomplete.
Concord took over with 4:45 left in the half and on third, and five from the Purple Rider 40, Burns gained 20 yards for a first down. A big play of the game occurred with 18.9 seconds remaining in the half and the Trojans out of timeouts. Concord had the ball on the Arcola 15. Austin Gaines juggled a pass from Shawn Bell, hauled it in, and raced in for the touchdown. Lemons' extra point made it 21-0 at the half.
"We had not run that play all year," said Thompson. "That was our little screen pass off our buck sweep action. We have always had it our package, but I am little leery of ever throwing that because it is so flat across the field and pick six is always looming. So I told our quarterback if you run back and it is not there, then throw it away and we will try a field goal. He didn't have time to think about it. He threw it without looking and Austin Gaines made a tremendous catch."
Lindsey said, "That was a big one and took a lot of wind out of our sails. Any momentum we would have had went away. Hats off to them. That was a heck of a play call in that situation and they got us."
In the second half, Arcola lost the ball on a fumble and an interception and had just two first downs in the half.
The Purple Riders played a 4-4 defense against the wing 'T" Trojans.
"In games like this it comes down to making tackles when you have the opportunity and there backs were hard to wrap up," said Lindsey. "They are the whole package. They are big and they move well. Their backs run well. That is a heck of a team and hats off to them. They beat us today. They outcoached us and outplayed us."
The Trojans never punted and their average drive started at the Arcola 49, while the Purple Riders' average start was its own 33.
"We beat a good football team today," said Thompson. "I know they are kind of young in some areas and they are going to be very good in the future. I think Arcola's coach is a class act. The kids were class acts today. It was a clean, hard-hitting football game and my hats off for his leadership."
Austin Hopkins, a junior, led the Purple Riders in rushing with nine carries for 47 yards.
Arcola loses seven seniors and this was the fifth straight playoff appearance, which is second behind the 1988-1993 teams for the most consecutive playoff appearances in school history. The Purple Riders also won their first playoff game since winning the state title in 2015.
"We had a couple of seniors come out for the first time," said Lindsey. "You are always going to have a Myles Roberts who just does everything right and is a kid that just busts his butt. For kids like Alec Downs and Kenyon Byard, who does everything that this program needs of him from the weight room or the leadership they got their opportunity their senior year. I want our program to be about that. It means a lot to me that they devoted their time. That is what it is all about."