SIDNEY — Sidney will start postseason play next week with clear road map to victory — and turnovers and special teams miscues aren’t a part of the directions.
For the third time this season, a plethora of turnovers and punting problems proved costly for the Yellow Jackets. Unlike the other two losses, the mistakes snowballed and resulted in a blowout loss.
Three turnovers and three bad punt attempts by Sidney allowed Piqua to score early and often in a 44-0 loss in a Miami Valley League crossover game on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
It’s the third-straight victory over the Yellow Jackets for Piqua, which will keep the Battered Helmet for another year.
The Yellow Jackets had cleaned things up the last two weeks in wins over Xenia and West Carrollton but had similar problems early and often against Piqua (6-0), which was ranked No. 8 in Division II in last week’s Associated Press state poll.
“You can’t put yourself in bad positions all night when you’re playing a team as good as Piqua,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “… They’re a very good football team, but we shot ourselves in the foot too many times, and it just snowballed, and we couldn’t dig ourselves out of it.
“We’re going to have to learn some things from this. Obviously the mental errors was the disappointing part, on top of the turnovers. There was a lot of mental errors of not knowing the play correctly and that kind of stuff.
“Offensively, defensively and special teams, all three phases of the game weren’t good for us. We pretty much got whipped.”
Sidney will host West Carrollton (1-3) next Friday in a first-round playoff game. It’ll be a rare playoff game for Sidney, which has only played in postseasons two other times. The Ohio High School Athletic Association opted in August to make all teams eligible for the playoffs this year.
“This one stings, but we’re going to have to watch it and figure it out and get better,” Doenges said. “We’ve got a very good West Carrollton team that’s coming back here, and we’ve got to beat them twice in the same year. We’ve got to be up for the challenge.”
All of Sidney’s turnovers came in the first quarter as well in addition to one botched punt, and Piqua scored on every resulting possession to take a 24-0 lead.
“We’ve got to figure it out,” Doenges said. “We didn’t create any turnovers on defense tonight, which had helped us make that up before. Special teams, which has been decent for us all year, was not very good tonight at all. It was not pretty. We’re going to have to rebound and dust ourselves back off.”
The Yellow Jackets fumbled at midfield on the first possession of the game. Ca’ron Coleman ran about 50 yards on the next play and then followed with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Indians a 7-0 lead with 7:41 left.
Tanner Kemp intercepted a pass and returned it to Sidney’s 23-yard line shortly after. After a holding penalty moved Piqua back, Dre’Sean Roberts caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Brady Ouhl to boost the lead to 14 points with 6:34 left.
Sidney went three-and-out and tried to punt, but the snap was bobbled, and Piqua tackled Sidney punter Wes Davidson at the 15-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Kemp ran it in with 3:30 left to increase the lead to 21-0.
The Yellow Jackets fumbled the ensuing kickoff return, and the Indians recovered at Sidney’s 15. Jackson Trombley made a 27-yard field goal with 1:17 left to cap off another scoring drive.
“We’ve got some really good speed on defense, and they had some unfortunate things that happened to them right away,” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “It kind of puts you in a hole. We’ve been in situations like that before where you just try to fight your way out of it the whole time. Fortunate for us and unfortunate for them how it turned out.”
Piqua blocked a punt attempt in the second quarter and also recovered another botched punt attempt deep in Sidney territory in the second half, which was played with a running clock.
Bryson Roberts scored on a 13-yard run with 5:14 left in the second quarter to boost the lead 31-0, and Ouhl threw a 25-yard TD pass to Garrett Schrubb with 42 seconds left to finish the scoring in the first half.
Ouhl threw a 5-yard TD pass to older brother Blane Ouhl late in the third quarter to finish the game’s scoring. Trombley missed the extra-point attempt, which was his only miss on six tries in the contest.
The Indians finished with 268 yards of offense while Sidney managed 110.
Ouhl completed 9-of-14 passes for 122 yards, while Coleman led the Indians with 66 rushing yards on seven carries and Kemp amassed 51 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Cedric Johnson completed 11-of-21 passes for 61 yards while E.J. Davis ran for 49 yards on 10 carries.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.