ST. MARYS, OH – Even mother nature was not enough to keep St. Marys from defeating Sidney for the third straight year as the Riders opened their 2016 campaign with a 43-39 come from behind win.
Moments after fighting back from a 33-14 deficit early in the third quarter, Roughrider Seniors Dustin Howell and Eric Spicer combined to put eight points on the board and push their own advantage to 36-33 with just over nine minutes remaining in the last period.
Mother Nature as she has done so often to high school football teams in the past few seasons took her turn at the lead as lightning would delay the contest for over an hour with the home team on top by three points.
Out of the delay the Riders defense rose to the occasion as they forced the visitors to punt the football. Seconds after forcing a St. Marys punt the Yellow Jackets again found themselves in business as Sophomore signal caller Andre Gordon connected on a 76 yard toss that pushed the ball deep in the blue and gold territory. With just 4:14 left in the ballgame Sidney runningback Isaiah Bowser forced his way into the endzone from four yards out to give his team a 39-36 advantage.
Senior TJ Mele’s recovery of an attempted quick kick gave St. Marys the ball at midfield and 4:13 with just one timeout. Eleven plays and 3:08 later the Roughriders punched in the games final score with Julius Fisher barreling in from a pair of yards out before adding the extra point for the final score of the long night.
Perhaps only the big mistake that Gordon made in the game which saw him finish 18/36 for over 300 yards was his last throw of the night that sailed over the head of his receiver and into the arms of a waiting Spicer for the games final big play. As he has done a handful of times in his three years at the helm, Howell took a knee and ran out the remaining 54.4 to secure the victory.
Five of the Sidney scores on the night came on the third play of their respective drives and each one was a big play that accounted for more than 27 yards of chewed up field.
On the night Gordon threw a trio of touchdowns in addition to a pair of interceptions. Bowser on the evening added a plethora of yards to the Jacket rushing total as he scored on runs of 45, 27 and 4. One of the touchdowns thrown on the night by Gordon came on a busted play in which the 2015 Sidney Offensive MVP scrambled to create time and hit Bowser for a 54 yard score.
While Dustin Howell might have only connected on 16 yards passing for the evening, he did damage on the ground for St. Marys as he rushed in three times and totaled four yards on those scoring jaunts.
In addition to the rushing exploits of Fisher, Spicer, and Howell, the Riders utilized the legs of 5’11 Junior back Shannon Fowler to change up the pace and gain yards and chew up the clock to perfection as they tallied a school record 76 carries and 82 total plays from scrimmage in the victory.
Sidney (0-1), coming off of their first winning season in over a decade will return home to Sidney Memorial Stadium for a Friday night date with Bellefontaine.
St. Marys (1-0) next Friday night will travel to Van Wert to take on an 0-1 Cougars squad who dropped their opener to Bryan 28-19 and will be looking for revenge for the 21-20 loss they suffered at the hands of the Riders last season.
Hear the Roughriders take on the Cougars live with myself and Dennis Cisco on K94.3 FM Celina or the K94 mobile app with pregame beginning at 6:30pm.