By Rob Kiser
It was a matchup of two 5-3 teams at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field as Sidney and Piqua tried to keep their playoffs hopes alive and for Piqua — a possible share of the GWOC North title.
All those possibilities went away for the Indians as Sidney emerged with a 17-14 victory.
Vandalia-Butler clinched the GWOC North title and Piqua dropped to 10th in the Division III, Region 10 computer rankings. With a win over Troy, the Indians will need help to get to the postseason.
The Jackets dominated the total yardage, but Piqua stayed in the game with a bend, but don’t break defense and by recovering three of Sidney’s six fumbles, two on punts.
But, Sidney drove from its own 22 and Danny Dean was perfect on a 35-yard field goal that would have been good from 50 with 1:18 to go to break a 14-14 tie.
Noah Lyman was able to make a leaping catch on a 33-yard pass from Rupert Delacruz at the Sidney 31 with :48 seconds to go.
But on third and 10 and intentional grounding call turned a fourth-and-10 into a fourth-and 35 and Piqua’s attempt at a hook-and-lateral came up 25 yards short of the first down with 32 seconds to go.
Sidney kneeled down one time and the game was over.
It was a night where Piqua’s offense failed to convert on numerous opportunities — in fact, both touchdowns came on fourth down plays.
Despite great field position in the first half, five of Piqua’s seven possession resulted in three-and-outs.
On Piqua’s second possession of the game, Darien Tipps-Clemons ran 24 yards to the Sidney one-yard line.
Four straight handoffs to Tipps-Clemons resulted in Sidney taking over at the Piqua nine.
A 15-yard punt by Sidney gave Piqua the ball at the Jackets 22 and on fourth-and-12 from the 14, Lyman made a leaping catch in the end zone. His kick gave Piqua a 7-0 lead with 11:54 remaining in the half.
Sidney answered with a 58-yard drive with Conor Beer running one-yard for the score and Dean kicking the extra point.
After Sidney intercepted Piqua at the Indians 24, freshman quarterback Andre Gordon threw to Damien Duff for a TD on the first play and Dean’s kick made it 14-7 with 6:30 left in the half.
Tristen Cox recovered a fumbled punt at the Sidney 48 in the final two minutes of the first half, but Piqua couldn’t move the ball.
Their final four possessions of the half were three-and-outs with Piqua losing 11 yards on those four drives combined.
Piqua put together a 77-yard drive to start the second half.
On fourth-and-two from the Sidney 21, Tipps-Clemons broke outside and went all the way to the end zone, with Lyman’s kick tying the game at 14.
Sidney drove deep into Piqua territory midway through the fourth quarter, but on first-and-10 from the 20, Ben Schmiesing stripped the ball from the receiver on a bubble screen and Derek Hite recovered.
Piqua could make only one first down before punting, setting up Sidney’s game-winning drive.
Unofficially, Tipps-Clemons rushed for 101 yards. Quarterback Rupert Delacruz was 10 for 26 passing for 106 yards and one interception.
Sidney is 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the GWOC North, while Piqua is 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the GWOC North.
The Indians close the season Friday, playing at Troy.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.