By Rob Kiser
The Sidney defense made one play in the second half.
And that was enough to hold off Piqua’s upset big and preserve a 34-33 win over the Indians at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field Friday night.
The Indians, who had trailed 21-7 at halftime, scored a touchdown on all four second-half possessions.
But, trailing 34-33 with 45 seconds to go after Ben Schmiesing’s two-yard TD run, Piqua made the right decision and went for two and the win.
But, the Sidney defense smothered Schmiesing in the backfield and when Piqua’s onside kick failed, the Jackets secured the Battered Helmet.
The Jackets improved to 6-0 overall and 1-0 in GWOC North play, while Piqua fell to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in GWOC North play.
And it was the third time this season Piqua had a chance for a big win — and the third time the Indians came up just short, which may well seal their playoff fate.
It was Piqua who had scored first.
Piqua quarterback Austin Davis found Cale Meckstroth for a 20-yard TD pass and Robbie Comstock’s kick made it 7-0.
But, Sidney ran off 21 unanswered points to take a 21-7 lead at half.
Isaiah Bowser, who finished with 186 yards on 37 carries, had TD runs of 30 and one yards and on another run from the one, Sidney recovered the fumble in the end zone. Hallie Truesdale made all three kicks to make it 21-7.
But, Piqua made some adjustments at halftime and the Indians offense was unstoppable in the second half.
Davis threw a 21-yard TD pass to Hayden Schrubb, but the exchange on the PAT was bad, leaving the score at 21-13.
Brown then exploded through the Sidney defense with 1:50 remaining in the third quarter on an 8-yard TD run to make it 21-19. But, the Indians couldn’t connect on the two-point pass.
Sidney quarterback Andre Gordon answered with a 64-yard TD run two-plays later, but the Jackets had trouble with the snap, so the lead remained one score — 27-19 — with 57 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Piqua came right back.
Ben Schmiesing ran the ball in from one-yard out and ran for the PAT to tie the game at 27-27 with 9:00 to go in the game.
Sidney put together a long drive and had first-and-goal at the one after a 30-yard pass from Gordon to Kelton Stockton.
But, two stops of Bowser, an illegal shift penalty and Gordon being dropped in the backfield for a 14-yard loss led to a fourth-and-goal from the 21 with 2:50 to to.
While the Piqua defense was good, Gordon’s arm was even better.
He threw a laser through the Indians defense to Ratez Roberts to make it 33-27 and Truesdale added the kick to make it 34-27 with 2:40 to go.
But, Piqua’s offense wasn’t going to be denied.
Davis was 3-for-3 on the drive, then ran 15 yards on a play where he was facemasked, giving Piqua a first-and-goal at the six.
Schmiesing ran it in from two yards out, it was time for the game-deciding PAT.
After timeouts by both teams, Schmiesing was greeted by a host of Sidney defenders in the backfield and never had a chance, giving Sidney a 34-33 win.
Schmiesing finished with 14 carries for 108 yards, while Brown had 20 carries for 84 yards.
Davis was 13 of 18 passing for 132 yards with one interception on a hail mary at the end of the first half.
Piqua plays at Greenville Friday night.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.