Isaiah Bowser sets a school record for rushing yards in a game.
By Bryant Billing
BELLEFONTAINE — Dezmin Lyburtus had plenty of success against Sidney’s defense for most of a nonconference game on Friday at AcuSport Stadium.
But in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Sidney’s defense forced a turnover on downs and intercepted a Lyburtus pass in the end zone to preserve a 42-33 win. It’s the first 2-0 start for Sidney since 2012.
Sidney took a 35-21 lead with a little over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Andre Gordon to Isaiah Bowser, but Lyburtus led a Bellefontaine rally. He threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Ganson with 8:29 left, but Sidney defensive tackle Devan Rogers blocked an extra-point attempt to keep Sidney’s lead at eight points.
Sidney punted on its next drive, and Bellefontaine quickly drove 52 yards and scored on a two-yard run by Lyburtus with 4:46 left. The Chieftains tried for a two-point conversion, but Lyburtus’ pass was broken up by Sidney defensive back Josiah Hudgins.
“I saw the quarterback rolling out, and my man ran a corner route, so I just jumped it and batted it down,” Hudgins said.
Sidney ate only a little over a minute off the clock on its next drive and punted. Bellefontaine drove into the red zone, but a sack on first down pinned the Chieftains back on the 29-yard line. Lyburtus then threw three consecutive incomplete passes, and Sidney took over on downs.
Bowser secured the victory on the next drive when he broke through the line and ran 62 yards for a touchdown with 1:18 left. Bellefontaine drove into the red zone again in the final minute, but Hudgins intercepted a tipped pass from Lyburtus to prevent any late scoring.
Lyburtus threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 163 yards and two scores. Bellefontaine had 554 total yards of offense in the game.
“I don’t think we were out of position too many times,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “In the end, I think the Lyburtus kid just out-athleted us. He’s a special kid. I thought (our defense) played tremendously well tonight, and played well when they needed to. I’m really proud of how they bounced back tonight under adversity.”
Bowser led a big night on offense for the Yellow Jackets. He rushed for a school-record 321 yards and scored four touchdowns. He consistently bounced off of Bellefontaine defenders to extend runs.
“I don’t know how he stays up,” Doenges said. “He’s a special kid. He had one kickoff tonight where I thought for about 25 yards he was down, but he just kept going and going and going.”
Doenges said the team’s offensive performance is more impressive since a few players have nagging injuries, including Gordon.
Gordon tweaked an ankle last week against St. Marys and has been dealing with some pain. Though it’s not serious enough to sideline him, Doenges said he’s not at full strength.
Gordon struggled passing-wise early as he overthrew and underthrew receivers. He seemed to get more comfortable in the second half and had several long passes, including a 68-yard touchdown pass to Kelton Stockton at the beginning of the third quarter.
Gordon completed 9-of-23 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
“He didn’t practice all week,” Doenges said. “We kept him off it all week, and he just rehabbed. He might have took 15 snaps this week. His timing was off a little bit, but he got himself in a rhythm and got better as the game went on.”
Gordon’s touchdown pass to Stockton came with 6:35 left in the third and gave the Yellow Jackets a 21-7 lead.
Bellefontaine responded fast. Trey Stahler scored on a short touchdown run to cut Sidney’s lead to seven, but Gordon followed with 2:25 left in the third with a 12-yard pass to Darren Taborn to extend the advantage to 28-14. Lyburtus scored on a 61-yard run to cut the deficit to seven with 2:08 left.
Bowser capped off Sidney’s first drive of the game with 10:17 left in the first quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run. The touchdown run was set up two plays before when Gordon threw a short pass to Caleb Harris, who ran 57 yards along the home sideline.
Bellefontaine scored on its first drive. After a penalty pushed the Chieftains back to their own 49-yard line, Lyburtus threw a touchdown pass over the middle to Stahler with 7:13 left.
Bowser scored again on a 14-yard run with 11:38 left in the second quarter to give Sidney a 14-7 lead. Sidney drove into the red zone late in the second but turned the ball over on downs after a missed field goal by Hallie Truesdale.
Sidney, which had 573 offensive yards in the game, hosts Carroll next week. The Patriots lost 44-14 to Beavercreek on Friday.
Doenges said he’s pleased with how the team has responded late in its first two games and said it’s a sign of the program’s improvement.
“I had this for sure at one time, but I think we have beaten opponents who had winning records at the end of the season only like twice in the last dozen years,” Doenges said. “These two teams (St. Marys and Bellefontaine) will finish with winning records and way beyond that. That’s really a sign of where our program is going.”
Here's an interview with Sidney defensive back Josiah Hudgins following the Yellow Jackets' 42-33 win over Bellefontaine. pic.twitter.com/hSnQHe2lWl
— Sidney Daily News (@sidneydailynews) September 2, 2017