DAYTON — After struggling to stop running opponents in the first two weeks, Sidney was able to stop Belmont when it counted.
The Yellow Jackets contained Belmont’s rushing attack in a 38-6 nonconference win on Friday at Welcome Stadium. Belmont was able to move the ball at times, but Sidney forced several punts and four turnovers on downs, including a goal-line stand in the third quarter.
“It was a really good week of prep for us to get this point and I’m proud of how the guys came out and responded,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “They drove on us in that first series, but they’ve done that against their other two opponents, too. I liked how we responded. We didn’t buckle, came back to the sideline and looked at the iPads and were ready to learn.”
After Belmont scored the game’s opening touchdown, Sidney (2-1) took a 17-6 lead by halftime, added two touchdowns in the third quarter and scored once in the fourth to put on a running clock.
It was quite the turnaround after losing to St. Marys 35-7 in Week 1.
“It feels great,” Sidney junior receiver/defensive back Darren Taborn. “We’ve been preparing all week for this and make sure we stopped big plays. The scout team helped us out this week and did really good.”
Belmont ran for 302 yards on 67 carries and had 19 first downs. Aside from turning the ball over on downs four times, Taborn had an interception and Joshua Harlett recovered a fumble.
“It was new for our kids to come down here and a little bit different atmosphere, and I’m really happy with how the kids played,” Doenges said. “We came out and got a good, quality win we can hang our hat on.”
Sidney had 374 yards of offense, with 235 coming through the air and 139 on the ground. Sidney senior quarterback Ryan Dunham completed 12 of 22 passes with three touchdowns and one interception.
Six different receivers caught passes in the game, and five different players got carries. Five different players scored Sidney’s touchdowns.
“Sometimes our guys can get a little frustrated because they might not get the ball for a few series, but we keep telling them that we only have one football and have seven, eight guys that can touch it and make big plays,” Doenges said. “We had a nice heart-to-heart with some of those kids, and it was nice tonight to see all these guys making plays. We want to continue to spread the ball around if we can.”
Sidney (2-1) had a 17-6 halftime lead and wasted no time extending it in the third quarter.
After Christian Retterer returned the half’s opening kickoff to the 49, Sidney junior quarterback Ryan Dunham threw a short pass to Ratez Roberts, who raced up the visiting sidelines 51 yards for a touchdown with 11:45 left to increase Sidney’s advantage to 24-6.
“A lot of his stuff has been shorter stuff as teams are trying to take away the deeper ball, and it’s nice for him to stretch his legs out and see him run,” Doenges said of Roberts. “He can run pretty well, and it’s nice to see him get to do that.”
The Bison (0-3) drove into Sidney territory on their next drive and got a first-and-goal at the three. Sidney prevented any gains on Belmont’s next four rushing attempts, though, and got the ball back.
After a mishandled snap on a punt attempt by Belmont in the last minute of the quarter gave Sidney the ball at the Bison 10-yard line, senior running back Caleb Harris ran up the middle on the next play to push the lead to 31-6.
Quamir “Philly” Brown ran up the visiting sidelines 74 yards for a touchdown with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter to push Sidney’s advantage to 32 points. It was the first varsity touchdown for Brown, a freshman running back/receiver.
The rest of the game was played with a running clock.
Brown finished with 70 total rushing yards on three carries and caught one pass for 43 yards.
“It’s good for him, and he did a little bit better with his blocking, so he’s coming along,” Doenges said of Brown. “He’s got to get himself a little more well-rounded in his game, but the kid sure can fly. He’s got great vision in the open field, and he’s going to be a fun one to watch the next three years.”
Belmont faced a third-and-five on Sidney’s 20 on its first drive, but Rian Reaves ran left around the line 20 yards for a touchdown. After two Belmont penalties, Reaves threw an incomplete pass on a two-point conversion attempt, which limited the lead to 6-0 with 8:18 left in the first quarter.
Sidney quickly moved the ball on its first drive. Harris had a 31-yard run in which he shook off several defenders to give Sidney a first-and-goal.
The Yellow Jackets scored four plays later when Dunham threw a short pass to Taborn, who dodged a defender and high-kicked his way into the end zone. Hallie Truesdale hit an extra point to give Sidney a 7-6 lead with 5:10 left in the first quarter.
“I knew he was there the whole time,” Taborn said of Belmont’s defender. “I knew he couldn’t tackle me in the open space, so I knew it was a touchdown.”
Belmont turned the ball over on downs on its next drive, and Sidney followed with a punt, which pinned Belmont at its own 15. The Bison were forced to punt after three runs and only got the ball to their 32.
Hallie Truesdale hit a 29-yard field goal with 7:14 left in the second quarter to increase Sidney’s lead to four points. Taborn then ended Belmont’s next drive with an interception he returned to the 43.
The Yellow Jackets quickly drove 57 yards, thanks in part to a 12-yard pass from Dunham to Keith Lee and a 15-yard penalty by Belmont. Dunham threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Hudgins with 2:12 left to push Sidney’s lead to 17-6.
Sidney will begin Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover play next week at home against defending Division III state champion Trotwood-Madison.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.