FAIRBORN — Fairborn put together three long drives in a Miami Valley League game against Sidney on Friday. The Yellow Jackets stopped the Skyhawks from putting together a fourth.
After scoring two consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Sidney forced a turnover on downs in the final seconds to secure a 28-21 victory at Buschemeyer Field.
It’s the third MVL win by seven points or less Sidney (4-4, 4-3 MVL Valley Division) has earned this season.
“We’ve been in a lot of adverse situations so far this year, and we stayed the course again,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “We did what we needed to do.”
That included scoring two touchdowns in the last eight minutes and stopping the Skyhawks in the final minute.
Fairborn converted a fourth down and drove to Sidney’s 36-yard line in the final minute, but then didn’t gain any yardage on four consecutive plays and turned it over on downs with one second left.
Sidney’s pass coverage proved excellent in the final set of downs, with two near interceptions, including on the final play.
Fairborn quarterback JT Smith threw up a pass on fourth down, and it hit off Kevin Marcus’ fingertips in the end zone with a second left.
Doenges credited the squad’s secondary on the late passes, and also on its defensive line for putting pressure on Smith.
“Pressure (on Smith) wasn’t really doing us a whole lot of good early in the game, so we kind of backed off of doing that a little bit and did some different things on defense,” Doenges said. “We dialed it up just a little bit more towards the end.
“We were able to get him to move around and not get too comfortable. And our secondary stayed on top of their routes and didn’t give up any big ones.”
Fairborn capped off a quick drive when Smith scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:50 left in the fourth to give the squad a 21-14 lead.
Sidney started its next drive and its own 41 and quickly scored. Sam Reynolds hauled in a 37-yard touchdown pass along the visitor’s sideline with 5:50 left to cut the gap to 21-20 after Myles Vordemark’s extra-point attempt was blocked.
But Sidney didn’t let the blocked extra point stop the momentum.
“At the end of the day, even if we made the extra point, we still had to score to win,” Doenges said.
After Fairborn got one first down, the Yellow Jackets forced a punt. Sidney was pinned to its own 24 but scored two plays later.
After a 1-yard loss, Herron threw a short pass over the middle to sophomore receiver Julius Spradling, who sprinted to the end zone on a 77-yard TD reception with 2:02 left.
Jy Foster-Wheeler ran in on a two-point conversion try to give the Yellow Jackets a 28-21 lead.
“We were just trying to find the spaces,” Doenges said of Reynolds’ and Spradling’s big TD plays. “They (Fairborn) were doing a nice job with what they were doing with their fronts and linebackers all night. It was kind of giving us some fits, but it was also leaving some holes in the secondary.
“We just had to find those, find guys that were open and have them be able to complete the catch. At the end of the night, we were able to do that for some pretty big plays.”
They weren’t the only big TD plays of the second half.
It was tied 7-7 at halftime, but Fairborn put together a long drive and scored on a 2-yard run by Smith with 4:40 left to take a 14-7 lead.
The advantage lasted all of 17 seconds (about as long as the scoreboard stayed on after the conclusion of the game before it was turned off).
Sophomore Tank Fleming caught the ensuing kickoff at the 16 near the home sideline, turned to his left and ran toward the middle of the field, then cut upfield and outran defenders on an 84-yard kickoff return for touchdown to tie it 14-14.
It’s the third kickoff return for a TD Fleming has had this season, and it’s the fourth the Yellow Jackets have had.
“We had to try to hide him a couple of times and move him around,” Doenges said. “I wouldn’t kick it to him, either. We have a lot of threats back there, but he’s a big threat.
“Us coaches this year, we kind of had a bet as to how many defensive touchdowns and special team touchdowns he and Julius would have. They’re starting to hit the mark we thought they could.”
Sidney finished with 310 yards of offense while Fairborn (1-7, 1-6 MVL Valley) finished with 253.
Reynolds caught seven passes for 111 yards and scored two TDs. He became the program’s leader for most receptions in a season during Friday’s game and has 56 to his credit this year.
Spradling caught five passes for 88 yards and scored one TD. Senior running back Martez Harris ran for 80 yards on 11 carries.
Herron completed 15-of-24 passes for 218 yards with three TDs.
“Luckily, big plays were on our side tonight, and we made more big plays than they did,” Doenges said. “That put us on top at the end.”
Vordemark led Sidney with 18.5 tackles.
The Yellow Jackets turned it over deep in Fairborn territory late in the first half, then turned it over on downs at Fairborn’s 4 early in the second quarter.
After having went three-and-out on their first two drives, the Skyhawks drove 96 yards, ate seven minutes off the clock and scored on a 16-yard run by Jay Kidd with 1:48 left to take a 7-0 lead.
“Their offense did a fantastic job of putting three long, sustained drives together,” Doenges said. “Coach (Larry) Cox, he’s a longtime coach and he does a lot of good things. If they continue to stay the course with him, they’ll do a lot of good things. They’re going to be a good football team.
“… I’m proud of our kids for believing in what we’re trying to do on offense and defense and special teams, and at the end of the day, we were able to come through.”
Sidney’s resliency showed in the final 1:48 of the second quarter.
After Fairborn’s long drive, the Yellow Jackets put together a quick drive, which Reynolds capped off by catching a 24-yard TD pass from Herron with 33 seconds left. Vordemark kicked the extra point to tie it 7-7 at halftime.
Sidney will continue MVL Valley Division play next week when it travels to Stebbins, which lost 42-7 at Xenia on Friday to drop to 4-4 overall and 3-4 in MVL play.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.