PIQUA — It was what a rivalry game should be Friday night at Alexander Stadium in Piqua, with the Sidney Yellow Jackets and the Piqua Indians slugging it out.
It came down to the final seconds, and Sidney’s offense rewarded an outstanding defensive effort with a methodical drive late in the game to set up a 34-yard field goal by Danny Dean with 1:18 remaining. It held up to give the Jackets a 17-14 win, their first over Piqua since 2009.
Sidney is 6-3 on the year and closes regular-season play at Greenville Friday night.
“It was a battle of wills and I’m proud of what the kids did,” said Sidney head coach Adam Doenges, who said it was Sidney’s first win over a team that will finish with a winning record since 2006 (Northmont). “The kids responded and we played tough. We had our backs against the wall numerous times, but the defense kept responding.”
The final drive was a thing of beauty to the young coach. The Jackets took over on their own 21 with 5:41 remaining and gave the Indians a steady diet of running back Isaiah Bowser, who went over 100 yards rushing in the game. Once the Jackets got close to the 20, Doenges went ultra-conservative, and it became fourth down on the Piqua 17. That’s when Dean trotted out and drilled the game-winner to clinch Sidney’s first winning season since 2003, and earn himself a ride on teammates’ shoulders when the game ended.
“When we needed to, we put that drive together,” said Doenges. “We challenged the kids and they saw what we had in front of us. We saw some things we liked and we kept going at that spot. Once we got in Danny’s range, we just wanted to protect the ball. And Danny has been in that situation a lot in practice because we practice that weekly.
“Isaac Kearns is a senior who doesn’t play a lot, and Payton Osborne is a senior who doesn’t play a lot,” Doenges added. “But Isaac snapped the ball on the field goal and Payton was the holder. And they both got the job done. And there were a couple other seniors on the line (on the field goal attempt) who don’t play a lot but they did their job too.”
Sidney’s defense was impressive in the opening quarter while the offense struggled. Piqua drove to the Jacket 5-yard line where it was first-and-goal, but three plays later at the two, Indian running back Darian Tipps-Clemons was spilled by Devon Rogers seven yards behind the line of scrimmage to keep the Indians out of the endzone. However, when the offense was unable to move, Sidney was forced to punt deep in its own territory. And when the punt was shanked, Piqua took over on the Jacket 21.
Still, the defense forced a 4th-and-goal from the 14, but the Indians were able to connect on a touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead.
However, this time the Jacket offense responded, thanks in large part to a good return of the kickoff by Darryl McNeal out to the 42. Good runs by Conor Beer and Andre Gordon put the ball deep in Piqua territory, and Isaiah Bowser took it up the middle from 15 yards out to knot the score.
The Jackets then got the ball back on an interception by Dillon King, and on the first play after the turnover, Gordon hit Damian Duff for a 24-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
The Jacket defense rose up again and overcame a special teams miscue when a Piqua punt hit a Sidney player and was recovered by the Indians near midfield. But a sack on first down by Devon Santos made sure Piqua didn’t take advantage.
The Jackets did very little on offense for most of the second half, enabling the Indians to get some good scoring opportunities. But the Sidney defense never gave in.
Piqua completed a pass to the Sidney 31 in the closing seconds, but that was all wiped out two plays later when Piqua’s quarterback was called for intentional grounding, moving the ball back into Piqua territory with just :40 remaining.
‘Skins edge USV
MCGUFFEY — It started out like Upper Scioto Valley was planning on running away from the Fort Loramie Redskins, taking a 12-0 lead early in the opening period.
But the Redskins battled back to trail just 12-10 at the half, then put up the only points of the third quarter to come away with a 16-12 win to remain tied for first in the Northwest Central Conference.
Upper’s Austin Sloan rushed for 132 yards on the opening quarter and led the Rams to a 12-0 lead. But the second quarter belonged to Loramie, which took advantage of a fumble by the Rams at their own 21 to score on a touchdown pass from Drew Weherman to Nate Pleiman.
Then after holding the Rams on fourth down, Loramie drove to the Upper six before settling for a 33-yard field goal by Josh Siegel.
The defense continued to control the game for the Redskins and the only score of the second half came on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Drew Wehrman to Gaier for a lead the Redskins did not relinquish in running their record to 5-4 with their fifth straight win.
Minster leads Anna
ANNA — Minster rolled to a 21-7 lead at the half and went on to lead the Anna Rockets 28-7 after three quarters in Midwest Athletic Conference play Friday at Anna.
Minsgter got two touchdown passes from Josh Nixon to Jacob Dues and a two-yard run by Evan Huelsman in the first half. Nixon then added a one-yard run in the third quarter.
Anna’s score came on a 15-yard pass from Colin Wuebker to Carter Huelskamp with :26 left in the first half.
Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News