SIDNEY — For the second week in a row, turnovers in the second half were the difference in a close loss for Sidney.
After recovering a fumble late in the third quarter, New Richmond scored early in the fourth quarter to take the lead, then returned an interception for a touchdown in the final minutes to run away and hand the Yellow Jackets a 21-7 loss at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Sidney (1-2) had driven into New Richmond territory and looked to be threatening to score when Isiah Bowman intercepted a Cedric Johnson pass and returned it 75 yards up the visitor’s sideline with 6:39 left.
The Yellow Jackets quickly drove into New Richmond territory again, but running back E.J. Davis had a pass intercepted inside the 20-yard line with 5:14 left.
Sidney drove deep into New Richmond territory again on the final drive of the game but couldn’t score before time ran out.
“We just couldn’t be consistent on offense,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “Our defense played well, but their offense was able to string some plays together and some drives together to kind of flip the field position a little bit.
“Our D did a nice job with their backs against the wall and got some turnovers tonight, but offensively we couldn’t take advantage, couldn’t get ourselves in a rhythm. Every four or five plays, we’d have a big negative (yardage) play or penalty or something. Most offenses can’t overcome that, and neither could we.”
The Yellow Jackets were unable to score on three drives in the second quarter that looked promising.
Sidney turned the ball over on downs after Jacob Wheeler hauled in a potential 19-yard TD pass with one foot out-of-bounds with 4:25 left. After Damon Dobbs intercepted a pass, Sidney again turned the ball over on downs after Johnson came up four yards short on a fourth-and-goal with two minutes left.
Sidney got the ball again before the end of the half, but Johnson had a pass intercepted at New Richmond’s 8-yard line with 28 seconds left.
“We’ll have to learn from this. I think most of the rest of our games this year are going to be like this, very evenly played. We’ve got to figure out some way of coming out ahead on those six plays that are going to be the game difference. We’re not there right now.”
The game was scheduled on Tuesday after West Carrollton canceled a Miami Valley League game that was slated to take place on Friday in Sidney due to having a player test positive for COVID-19. The Lions had been looking for a Week 3 opponent for four days after fellow Southern Buckeye Athletic/Academic Conference Batavia canceled a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak on its team.
Doenges said he was happy Sidney was able to play on its originally scheduled senior night but said a second consecutive close loss was disappointing.
“It’s nice to get to play, but when you’re out here, you want to win football games,” Doenges said. “This stinks; it’s not fun.
“At the end of the day when you sit back, you’ve still got to be grateful that you’re playing football games right now, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to figure out a way to get over the hump and get those four or five plays that can be game changers for us. We’ll get back to the drawing board and see what we can do.”
New Richmond (3-0) quickly drove about 80 yards on the first drive of the game and scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Luke Lytle to Kadin Pollard with 8:35 left to take a 7-0 lead.
The Lions, which beat Western Brown 77-61 last week, never were able to replicate their first drive of fast-paced steady gains the rest of the night.
“They came out real well,” Doenges said. “They played fast. We were able to catch the tempo of the offense after that; I think they were playing a little faster than we were anticipating. But our kids adjusted. I think we did a nice job moving forward of getting our calls in and getting adjusted to it.”
The teams traded a series of punts until Sidney’s ultimately fruitless drives late in the second quarter.
The Yellow Jackets quickly drove about 80 yards on the first drive of the third quarter to tie it up. After a couple of big runs by Johnson and a 15-yard pass to Wheeler, Davis ran in from 4 yards out with 9:48 left to tie it 7-7.
After a New Richmond punt, Sidney went on another long drive, but it ended when Avante Martin fumbled at the Lions’ 14 with about 3:40 left in the third. New Richmond responded with a long drive and scored on a 5-yard run by Lytle with 11:18 left in the fourth to take a 14-7 lead.
Sidney is scheduled to travel to Xenia next Friday. The Yellow Jackets were originally scheduled to travel to Fairborn for an MVL game, but that contest was canceled earlier this week. Fairborn — which also canceled its Friday game at Tippecanoe — has several players quarantining due to coming into contact last week with the West Carrollton player who tested positive.
The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to host Xenia in Week 5, but Sidney athletic director Mitch Hoying said if COVID-19 forces more cancellations, another opponent may be scheduled to avoid consecutive matchups with the Buccaneers.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.