RIVERSIDE — A pair of turnovers and several other costly errors resulted in Sidney’s second trip to Edmundson Stadium this season going a lot like the first.
This time, the difference was one point instead of two.
Shawn Dozier made an extra-point attempt minutes after a Sidney try fell short to lift the Indians to a 24-23 overtime win in a second-round Division II, Region 8 playoff game on Friday.
Sidney took its first lead of the game when senior quarterback Cedric Johnson scored on a 5-yard touchdown run in overtime. But the Yellow Jackets picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty seconds after Johnson crossed the end zone, which backed up the extra-point attempt 15 yards.
Carson Taylor’s 35-yard extra-point try fell down in the end zone, limiting Sidney’s lead to 23-17.
“That put us in a bind,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said of the penalty. “I give a lot of credit to Stebbins. They had a nice game plan with two weeks off (due to a first-round bye).
“I thought we got some nice stuff going. It was a good battle between the players and the coaches. But for the third time in a year, we’re at the short end of the straw.”
It’s the third time in a year the teams have played. Stebbins beat Sidney 23-21 in Week 9 last year and 22-20 in Week 2 earlier this season.
It didn’t take the Indians long to score in overtime. Junior quarterback Nate Keller ran 16 yards on the team’s first play in overtime and ran it into the end zone two plays later to tie it.
After two timeouts, Dozier kicked the game-deciding point.
Sidney outgained Stebbins 395 yards to 323. Each team had two turnovers and eight penalties — but Sidney’s turnovers and penalties seemed to come at more crucial points.
Both of Sidney’s turnovers came in the second half. The squad fumbled at midfield on the first drive in the third quarter, and the Indians scored shortly later on a 4-yard pass from Keller to Dalton King to take a 17-9 lead.
The Yellow Jackets tied it later in the third and had a chance to take the lead in the fourth but fumbled on their own 5 with 5:32 left.
Aside from the penalty that pushed the overtime extra-point try back 15 yards, the Yellow Jackets had a holding penalty negate a 68-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the third quarter. They fumbled on the next play.
“We’ve got to keep learning from those mistakes and penalties, and eventually we’re going to put it all together and minimize damage to ourselves,” Doenges said. “We can’t do (those things) and win close games. …We’re going to have figure that out so we can finish the season strong.”
Now that Sidney (4-4) has been eliminated from the playoffs, Doenges said the squad will wrap up the season with two regular-season games. The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to host Vandalia-Butler this Friday, and Doenges said a matchup with Troy has been tentatively scheduled for the following Friday.
It was the first playoff win in program history for Stebbins (5-2), which advances to face defending D-II state champion Cincinnati LaSalle in a regional quarterfinal next Friday in Cincinnati.
“We had our chances,” Doenges said. “We had some deep drives in the first and second half where we didn’t punch it in once we got it in the red zone.
“But they did the same thing. It was kind of a war of both teams getting in the red zone, and neither one of us could come up with a lot of scores when we got there. Two evenly matched teams, but we came up on the short end again.”
Johnson completed 15-of-26 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown and ran for 152 yards and one TD on 16 carries.
Jacob Wheeler led the team with 80 receiving yards on five catches, while Izayah Clarke had a team-high six catches for 41 yards. E.J. Davis ran for 62 yards on 16 carries; defensive back Curtis Spangler led the team with 6.5 tackles and for the second consecutive week intercepted two passes.
After a decent kickoff return to open the game, Stebbins drove down and scored on a 22-yard touchdown run by Keller to take a 7-0 lead with 8:40 left in the first.
The teams traded punts after that, and Sidney then put together a drive. After driving to the red zone, Taylor made a 25-yard field goal with 1:51 left to cut the gap to 7-3.
Stebbins quickly drove down on its next possession but stalled in the red zone, and Dozier kicked a 21-yard field goal with 11:13 left in the second to increase the lead to 10-3.
The Yellow Jackets quickly punted again. Stebbins again drove quickly and stalled in the red zone, and Dozier had a 37-yard field goal try partially blocked.
Sidney quickly drove on its next possession. After a big run by Johnson, Devin Taborn took a handoff, ran left toward the visitor’s sideline and just got across the plain in the corner of the end zone to bring Sidney within 10-9 with 1:35 left. Taylor’s extra-point try was blocked, which allowed the Indians to keep the lead.
“We gave up that big kickoff and they had a big score to start the game off, but we settled down and got ourselves into a good football game,” Doenges said. “I thought we did some nice things, especially defensively as it wore on, but at the end of the day, they got the touchdown at the end and got it through the uprights to get the win.”
After the Indians took a 17-9 lead in the third quarter, Sidney battled back. The squad drove down and scored when Wheeler caught a short pass and fought off Stebbins defenders on a 29-yard TD reception with 5:37 left.
E.J. Davis caught a two-point conversion pass from Johnson to tie it 17-17.
“I thought we did some good things and I felt like we had the momentum there and still had it going into overtime,” Doenges said. “We got that score quick. We would have liked to have won the toss and deferred and be on defense last, but they got the better end of us, and that long PAT hurt.”