SIDNEY — Missed kicks, a stout Piqua third-down conversion rate and an incomplete two-point conversion pass hurt Sidney in a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division game on Friday.
Though the Yellow Jackets nearly overcame their miscues, a comeback attempt failed and allowed Piqua to hold onto a 14-12 victory at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Sidney (3-3, 0-1 GWOC North) was without junior kicker Hallie Truesdale on Friday, who has been dealing with a nagging leg injury. Senior Caleb Harris kicked in her place and missed a 27-yard field goal attempt and an extra point in the first half.
“She’s been battling that leg injury since two-a-days,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said of Truesdale. “She’s been battling, she’s been battling, she’s been battling. Last week, it just really got to her. She was in pretty extreme pain. So we just needed to sit her out this week to try and get her rested up and maybe try to get that thing healed the rest of the season.
“It didn’t really hurt us on the kickoffs. Cam Vordemark did a nice job coming in and really was consistent. …Caleb did a nice job all week (in practice), but it’s just something that he’s not used to doing. It’s no fault to him. It’s just something we had to adjust to, and obviously, that hurt a little bit.”
The Yellow Jackets scored a late touchdown to pull within two points, but a pass in the middle of the end zone on a two-point conversion from junior quarterback Ryan Dunham hit the turf.
Sidney forced Piqua (4-2, 1-0) to punt with about a minute left but didn’t get the ball further than its 20-yard line.
“It was two teams that knew each other,” Doenges said. “It was a great chess match. Two coaching staffs that had great game plans on both sides of the ball. It was just a battle on who was able to hold the pencil last on some of that X’s and O’s stuff.”
The Indians converted 6-of-11 third downs. Piqua’s first-half touchdown came on a third-and-four, and the squad also converted a third-and-19 and a third and 11.
Piqua quarterback Micah Karn was a big reason why. He scrambled for several big gains and finished 131 rushing yards on 21 carries. He also completed 8-of-12 passes for 121 yards.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Doenges said. “He runs that offense well. He’s a big thick kid and he’s got a high motor. He’s won some football games for them and he’s a good quarterback. We knew that going in, and he was able to stretch some plays longer and extend some series.”
Piqua led Sidney 7-6 at halftime. Piqua fumbled on the first drive of the half and Sidney’s Keith Lee recovered, but the Yellow Jackets were forced to punt.
Piqua drove to Sidney’s 21 on the next drive but fumbled again, and Seth Klingler recovered. The Yellow Jackets went three-and-out and punted to midfield.
The Indians scored on the next drive when Karn scored on a keeper with 7:45 left in the fourth to push the lead to 14-6.
Sidney quickly responded. After Josiah Hudgins returned the kickoff to Sidney’s 35, Dunham threw an 18-yard pass to Ratez Roberts and Harris followed soon after with a 38-yard run to move the ball to Piqua’s 8.
Dunham then threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Darren Taborn with 5:07 left, but a two-point conversion pass attempt was incomplete.
Karn punted with a minute left and pinned Sidney back at its own 1.
The Yellow Jackets got to their own 20 with 10.6 seconds left, but their last pass attempt went to midfield and was nearly intercepted before falling to the turf.
Sidney was pinned back deep in its own territory most of the game thanks to Karn, who averaged 34.3 yards per punt.
“It was a battle of field position the whole game,” Doenges said. “Little things were going to be the determination of that game.”
Piqua had 353 yards of offense and 16 first downs while Sidney had 304 yards and 13 first downs.
“We’re a big play offense and they were going to make us work,” Doenges said. “We were only able to sustain one drive to get down the field. We did have one big play, but we need to put more drives together.”
Dunham completed 19-of-28 passes for 139 yards, and Harris ran for 149 yards on 17 carries. Taborn caught for passes for 94 yards, and Roberts caught five passes for 43 yards.
Karn completed 8-of-13 passes for 123 yards and ran for 141 yards on 22 carries.
Sidney quickly moved into the red zone on the first drive of the game after pass receptions by Lathan Jones and Quamir “Philly” Brown and several runs by Harris. The Yellow Jackets were stopped after getting a first-and-goal, and Harris, who kicked in place of an injured Hallie Truesdale, missed a 27-yard field goal attempt with a little under seven minutes left.
After the teams traded a couple of punts, Dunham tried to punt on a fourth down near midfield, but Brennan Toopes blocked the punt and returned it to the 3-yard line. The Yellow Jacks lined up in their normal offensive formation before Dunham took a few steps back and punted.
“That’s been a good play all year, but we just missed a block on it,” Doenges said of the punt. “It’s one of those things that just didn’t work in our favor. We just didn’t execute it properly.”
Karn ran it in from four yards out three plays later to give Piqua a 7-0 lead with 5:49 left in the second quarter.
Sidney responded less than a minute later when Dunham threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Taborn. Harris missed the extra point, though, and Piqua kept a lead at 7-6 with 4:56 left.
Sidney will continue GWOC North play next Friday at Tippecanoe, which lost 49-14 to Troy on Friday.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.