SIDNEY — Sidney rallied before halftime of a season opener on Friday to take a lead against rival St. Marys and nearly rallied in the second half.
A missed field goal doomed the Yellow Jackets’ chances, though.
Sidney missed a potentially game-tying field goal with 40 seconds left and lost to the Roughriders 25-22 in front of a packed Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Sidney scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to pull within three points and then recovered an onside kick. After driving into the red zone and stalling, the team opted to try a 30-yard field goal to potentially send it to overtime. Senior Hallie Truesdale’s kick up the middle fell short of the bottom crossbar, allowing St. Marys to take the ball over on downs and run out the clock.
“She looked better than she had all summer in warmups, and we felt more than comfortable for it to go in,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “It just wasn’t there. She’s made some good kicks in the past, and that one just didn’t work.
“We told all our kids after that you don’t win a football game because of one play or one great play and you don’t lose a football game because of one bad play or someone doing something dumb on one play or one play call. It’s a collaborative effort across the board, and there were many times in that game where we needed to make some plays. It just didn’t work out for us in the end.”
Friday’s game was the last time in the foreseeable future the two squads will play. Sidney is in its first season in the Miami Valley League and will commence playing a nine-game conference schedule next year. Bellefontaine will remain as the Yellow Jackets’ lone nonconference opponent.
Sidney scored 15 unanswered points to end the first half but St. Marys scored first in the second half. Gavin Reineke threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Carson Fischbach on a fourth-and-10 to cap off a 78-yard drive and put the Roughriders ahead 18-15 with 5:41 left in the third.
The Yellow Jackets went three-and-out on the next drive and punted, and after a penalty, St. Marys got the ball at Sidney’s 42-yard line. The Roughriders methodically drove down and scored on a 5-yard run by Ethan Wedding with 35 seconds left to boost the lead to 25-15.
Sidney went three-and-out and was forced to punt but forced St. Marys to do the same.
The Yellow Jackets then quickly worked the ball down the field. After senior quarterback Ryan Dunham threw 13- and 15-yard passes to sophomore Quamir “Philly” Brown, EJ Davis ran 10 yards for a first down to give Sidney a first-and-goal. Sophomore Jaden Swiger scored on a 1-yard run three plays later to cut the gap to three points.
The Yellow Jackets recovered an onside kick at St. Marys 48. Davis, a sophomore, ran for about 20 yards on the second play of the drive, and the squad eventually moved the ball down to the 8.
Brown was tripped up on a run at the 13 on a third down, and Sidney then tried for the field goal.
Doenges said he was happy the team rallied late and also rallied in the first quarter after trailing by 11 points early.
“We’ve got a young team with only 13 lettermen back and a lot of young guys and sophomores, and I’m happy that they rallied back,” Doenges said. “They’re competitors, and though they haven’t been in this situation before, but they compete and they hate losing.
“That’s what I want from my guys. I don’t want them to be happy with this and think it’s a moral victory. Not one kid thinks that, and it’s awesome. There was once a time and place in this program where we would think of this as a moral victory and be happy with it. Not now. We’re not happy. But we’re going to have to keep growing up and continue to get better.”
Sidney scored the last two touchdowns of the first half to take a 15-11 halftime lead.
The Roughriders scored on their first drive after converting a fourth-and-one to get into the red zone and also recovering a fumble near the end zone.
Dylan Trogdlon capped off the 77-yard possession with a 1-yard run with 6:11 left in the first quarter. St. Marys took an 8-0 lead on a two-point conversion run.
Sidney went three-and-out on its first drive and punted to midfield, and Ty Howell returned it to the 31 for the Roughriders.
When it looked like St. Marys had a chance to take a commanding lead, Sidney’s defense didn’t allow a first down and forced a turnover on downs.
After Sidney went three-and-out again, St. Marys quickly drove into the red zone but again stalled. Henry Spencer made a 24-yard field goal with 8:52 left in the second quarter to increase the Roughriders’ lead to 11-0.
Sidney’s offense then came alive.
Davis broke through the line on a run up the middle and raced 72 yards for a touchdown with 7:50 left. Dunham threw a two-point conversion pass to Brown to pull the Yellow Jackets within 11-8.
St. Marys’ next drive ended fast after its first pass attempt of the game was deflected by Grant Fair and intercepted by Beau Davis, who returned it to St. Marys’ 41.
The Yellow Jackets scored a few plays later when Dunham threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Cam Vordemark on fourth down. Truesdale made the extra point to put Sidney ahead 15-11 at halftime.
The Yellow Jackets were without senior starting receiver/defensive back Darren Taborn on Friday. Taborn is battling a knee injury he sustained in a scrimmage against Chaminade-Julienne last week.
Sidney also lost senior starting receiver/defensive back Lathan Jones to an apparent leg injury on the second play of the third quarter. He had to be helped off the field and did not return.
“It’s even tougher with those guys playing on both sides of the ball, but I’m proud of our kids that were thrown into the fire,” Doenges said. “We work our backups a good amount all week. I’m glad for some of those kids who got in. I’ll have to watch film, but I know they went out and played hard. They may not have been perfect, but they went out and competed.”
The Yellow Jackets had 276 yards of offense while the Roughriders had 274.
Dunham completed 9-of-18 passes for 104 yards. Vordemark led the squad with four receptions for 54 yards. Davis led the team with 131 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Sidney will continue nonconference play next week when it travels to Bellefontaine.
After Friday’s game, St. Marys leads the all-time series 37-27-3. The Roughriders have won five of the last six times the squads have played.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.