VANDALIA — Sidney had its worst offensive performance of the season against Troy last week but performed a lot better on Friday at Butler’s Memorial Field. The Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack ran over and around Butler defenders, and three different players threw passes 35 yards or longer — including a defensive lineman.
Sidney jumped out to a big lead and cruised in the second half to a 55-34 win in a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division game.
The win clinches a playoff berth for Sidney according to Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic50.net. It will be the first postseason appearance since 1989 and the second in school history.
The Yellow Jackets amassed 579 yards of offense in the game. Bowser finished with 245 rushing yards, while Gordon rushed for 65 yards and two touchdowns and completed 13-of-20 pass attempts for 168 yards with two touchdowns.
It’s the most yards Sidney has had in a game this season and matches a season-high points total. The Yellow Jackets also scored 55 points in a win over Xenia on Sept. 15.
Sidney had season lows in total yards (334) and points (21) against Troy.
“The kids came out with fire this week,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “They were not satisfied. They were pretty angry with what happened (against Troy). It was neat when they came back in last Sunday and we had a good heart-to-heart talk and watched some good film and had tough conversations.
“I’m really proud. They’ve got a good football team (at Butler) with a good defensive line and a good linebacking corps. We did what we wanted to do.”
Sidney overwhelmed Butler’s defense early and built an 35-7 lead. Butler came as close as 15 points in the fourth quarter after Logan Flatt scored a 5-yard touchdown run and followed with a two-point conversion run.
Butler forced Sidney to punt on its next drive but couldn’t capitalize. Christian Townsend grabbed an interception for Sidney with about seven minutes left, and quarterback Andre Gordon ran for a 23-yard touchdown with 4:26 left to finish Sidney’s scoring. Darren Taborn came up with an interception with 3:57 left to end Butler’s next drive.
Defensive lineman Devan Rogers — who threw a 44-yard pass and caught a touchdown pass in the game — credited Sidney’s defensive backs for helping to contain Butler’s passing game.
“They’ve been making plays all year,” Rogers said of Sidney’s defensive backs. “… We stuck to the plan. Late when (Butler) kind of changed their game plan and sped the game up, we had some letdowns on some plays, but we bounced back and got the dub.”
Bowser ran for 154 rushing yards on 16 carries in the first half and scored three touchdowns in addition to at 35-yard touchdown pass to Ratez Robets. He surpassed 2,000 rushing yards on the season in the first half.
Bowser also surpassed 5,000 career rushing yards and 6,000 all-purpose yards in the game.
Rogers also threw a long pass in the game. His pass came late in the first quarter after he and several other players lined up in a group behind Gordon.
Gordon took the snap and quickly tossed it back to Rogers, who threw a rocket down the field while Butler’s defenders tried to figure out who had the ball. Kelton Stockton leapt and made a 44-yard reception at Butler’s 3-yard line.
“I’ve got a really good arm, and Coach put in the new play this week,” Rogers said. “We just took the chance and it worked out really good. Kelton did a great job receiving it.”
Rogers had seven tackles and one sack for Sidney before leaving the game in the third quarter with a minor injury. His sack came early in the second quarter when he blew past Butler’s offensive line and forcefully brought Butler quarterback Mason Motter to the ground.
“Their line’s pretty good, no doubt. They get my respect,” Rogers said. “We wanted to get some pressure on the quarterback and that’s what we did. …That (sack) was really exciting. It was wide open. The quarterback wasn’t paying attention, and I just gave him the best hit I could.”
Sidney (8-1, 3-1 GWOC North) wasted no time building an early lead. After two first downs on the first drive, Gordon threw a lateral to Bowser. Bowser then threw the touchdown pass to a wide-open Roberts to give Sidney a 7-0 lead.
Butler (3-6, 1-3) returned the ensuing kickoff to the Sidney 40-yard line. Flatt ran for two yards on first down, and Butler threw three consecutive incomplete passes to turn the ball over on downs.
After the Yellow Jackets took over, Gordon threw a 24-yard pass to Taborn and a 35-yard pass to Roberts to move the ball to the Butler 3. Bowser ran up the middle for a touchdown on the next play to give Sidney a 14-0 lead with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
Butler scored a little over a minute later when Logan Flatt capped off a drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Sidney scored again with 1:40 left in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Gordon to extend the lead to 21-7. The run came two plays after Rogers’ pass to Stockton.
Rogers was on the receiving end of Sidney’s next touchdown. After a failed fake punt attempt, the Yellow Jackets took over at Butler’s 40 and quickly drove into the red zone. After a fake handoff to Bowser, Gordon scrambled toward the visitors’ sidelines and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Rogers with 10:37 left in the second to give Sidney a 28-7 lead.
Andre Gordon throws a 10-yard touchdown pass to Devan Rogers. Sidney takes 28-7 lead over Butler will with 10:33 left in the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/zSrxlRlLUr
— Bryant Billing (@TopBillingSport) October 20, 2017
Bowser ran 21 yards for a touchdown after a pitch from Gordon to boost Sidney’s lead to 28 points with 5:33 left in the second. Flatt scored a 4-yard touchdown run with 2:25 left to cut Sidney’s lead to 35-13 after a botched extra point attempt, but Bowser ran for a 57-yard touchdown 28 seconds later to boost the lead to 42-13.
Doenges credited Sidney’s first half offensive performance to a fast tempo.
“We wanted to play ultra-fast this week,” Doenges said. “We felt like we’re a really good football team when we play a really fast tempo. It requires a lot of mental toughness and durability on our part. I thought we did a nice job of seeing that we were wearing them down a little bit. Our kids started to thrive on it a little bit.”
Motter threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson with 46 seconds left to cut Sidney’s lead to 42-20.
Butler opened the third quarter with a 4-yard run by Flatt, and Sidney struck back with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Gordon to Stockton with 1:11 left to give Sidney a 49-26 lead.
Andre Gordon scrambles, throws 2-yard TD to Kelton Stockton. Sidney takes 49-26 lead over Butler with 1:11 left in the third quarter. Video complete with press box window reflection. pic.twitter.com/6CZbGa8dbP
— Bryant Billing (@TopBillingSport) October 21, 2017
Sidney travels to Greenville next Friday to wrap-up regular season play. The Yellow Jackets can likely clinch a first-round home game with a win.
Though Rogers said Sidney’s players are aware a playoff berth is likely, they’re focused on finishing regular season with a win over Greenville and capturing the Little Brown Jug.
“We’re focused on getting that Jug, sticking to our game plan and getting that dub.”
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.