By Rob Kiser
The smiles on the Piqua football players faces told the story after a 33-13 win over Sidney Thursday Night at Sidney Memorial Stadium/30&0 Field.
The Indians are back — and winning the Fox 45 Thursday Night Lights trophy was nice — taking the “Battered Helmet” back to Piqua was priceless.
Piqua improved to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the Great American North, while Sidney dropped to 3-3 and 0-1.
“Definitely,” Piqua offensive lineman/defensive lineman Nate Monnin said about knowing he will see the “Battered Helmet” in its rightful place after a one-year absence today. “That is awesome.”
Piqua football coach Bill Nees said the same thing about the helmet, which is kept by whichever team wins the annual game.
“It is an an ugly, old thing, but we are glad to have it,” Nees said.
To Sidney’s credit, after getting down 20-0 at halftime, the Jackets started to make things interesting late in the third quarter.
The Jackets were trailing 27-13 when a Piqua fumble on a bckwards pass was recovered by Taybor Phomdouangsy and gave Sidney the ball at its own 30.
Sidney had driven to the Piqua 29 and had a third and one when quarterback Dillon King bobbled the snap from center. By the time he looked up, Monnin was there to smother him for an 11-yard loss. On fourth-and-12, Jacob Bushnell had the coverage and the pass fell incomplete giving Piqua the ball.
“That (the sack) was set up by Tristen (Cox) and Josh (Potter),” Monnin said. “They were on the center all game and had him scared. They deserve the credit for that one. I could see he was going right. I was going right all the way.”
Allen Schrubb, who has become a touchdown maker of late and ran for three scores in the game, had a 39-yard run down to the eight to set up and two-yard TD run by Ben Schmiesing to make it 33-13 early in the fourth and seal Sidney’s fate.
“I think we lost the momentum a little in the third quarter,” Schrubb said. “But, then we got it back. That is something we are able to do.”
Late in the game, Hayden Schrubb snagged an interception and Piqua was able to take a knee and claim the “Battered Helmet”.
“It felt good (to get the interception),” Schrubb said. “Just nice to seal the deal.”
Piqua, wearing all-white uniforms, exploded out of the gate and dominated the first half.
On the opening possession of the game, Schmiesing returned a kickoff 33 yards to the Sidney 26 and it took Piqua just three plays to get on the board.
A 17-yard pass from Austin Davis to Caleb Patton set up a 5-yard TD run by Allen Schrubb to make it 6-0.
“We came out ready to roll,” Schrubb said. “The offensive line and (Ben) Schmiesing are doing an unbelievable job blocking.”
Hunter Hawk ended Sidney’s opening drive with an interception at the Piqua 3.
Piqua would have to punt, but forced Sidney into a fourth-and-52 and would eventually get the ball back at the Jackets 39-yard line.
Six plays later, Schrubb took a toss from the 7-yard line and went into the end zone untouched to make it 12-0.
“Our offense line was just gashing the defense,” Nees said. “And Allen (Schrubb) is pretty quick on his feet for a big guy. The offensive line was just doing an incredible job tonight.”
On Sidney’s next possession, another bad snap led to a sack by Monnin and Potter, forcing Sidney to punt from its seven.
Hayden Schrubb returned the ball 25 yards to the Sidney 20.
Schmiesing scorted on the first play, but holding brought the play back.
On the second and 24 from the 34, Davis hooked up with Schrubb along the left sidelines and he took it into the end zone. Schrubb’s PAT run made it 2-0.
“We needed a play,” Hayden Schrubb said about the TD reception.
Sidney had a chance to get on the board late in the first half.
But, on fourth-and-one from the four — with 1,000-yard rusher Isaiah Bowser in the backfield — the Jackets elected to pass. The ball fell incomplete and Piqua ran out the clock.
“Our defense made a lot of plays like that throughout the game,” Nees said. “It was just good team defense.”
On Sidney’s first possession of the second half, it looked like Piqua’s defense would come up big.
But, on fourth-and-goal from the 16, Caleb Harris made a catch in the back of the end zone on a pass from King.
“I was pretty upset with that one,” Nees said. “But for the most part, the defense did a great job all night.”
A 41-yard pass from Davis to Monnin, set up a 13-yard TD run by Allen Schrubb, before Sidney answered with a 76-yard kickoff return by Bowser that led to a TD run by the back on fourth and goal from the one.
That made it 27-13 and things got interesting when Piqua fumbled on the next possession — before answering in a big way.
“We have been through the injuries and everything we went through,” Allen Schrubb said about a 1-2 start. “I think this is a team ready to really go on a roll.”
Schrubb finished with 16 carries for 139 yards to lead the Piqua offense.
Davis was 4-for-7 passing for 108 yards, while Monnin, along with his offensive and defensive work, also blocked an extra point.
Boswer led the Sidney offense, rushing for 110 yards on 33 carries, while King was eight for 18 passing for 134 yards with two interceptions.
And while Piqua will take a three-game winning streak into next week’s home game with Greenville, Nees knows they can take nothing for granted.
“You would like to think (Piqua has turned a corner),” Nees said. “But, anything can happen. There is always some kind of adversity that comes up. We have a big game with Greenville — it is homecoming — and we have got to get to work.”
And one thing will that make that a little easier.
“It feels great (to get the Battered Helmet) back,” Allen Schrubb said. “I have been waiting for a year for that.”
Just another sign the Indians are back.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.