SIDNEY, OH – St. Marys and Sidney got off to an offensive explosion in their 2017 season opener on Friday night with the Yellow Jackets turning the table on the Roughriders from the previous seasons meeting and scoring last in their 39-32 non-conference victory.
Despite losing most of their record setters from an offense that finished as the second highest point scoring group in school history the Riders were able to get on the board first on the opening drive of the contest. In typical St. Marys style the Roughriders traveled 74 yards in 17 plays and took 8:45 off the opening quarter clock before Braedan Dunlap cashed in from four yards out to put his team on top 7-0.
Two plays is all it took for the Yellow Jackets to respond on their first possession as QB Andre Gordon connected on a 49 yard touchdown pass to Northwestern University commit Isaiah Bowser just :31 seconds after their first drive began. Ratez Roberts two-point conversion catch gave Sidney their first lead at 8-7 on the next play of the contest.
Showing that they too can score quickly, the Roughriders second possession lasted 2:39 before starting signal caller Colin Clements tossed the first of two deep balls for 39 yards and six points to Dunlap to give St. Marys an advantage of 15-8.
As they had done the first time they were given the football the home squad scored quickly to answer their opponents marker when Gordon marched in from 33 yards out to tie the ballgame at 15-15 with 10:48 to go in the opening half.
Four plays and a score for St. Marys culminated in a 52 yard touchdown pass from Clements to Dunlap and pushed the Riders back on top at 22-15 at the end of the next possession, and St. Marys added a field goal before the half from Gabe Vandever following a recovered onsides kick to lead 25-15 at the end of the period.
In the first half the Jackets ran 18 plays for 230 yards, while their opponents accumulated 239 yards on the back of 37 plays from scrimmage offensively.
A St. Marys penalty on the third quarter kickoff and two plays is all it took for Sidney and Bowser to get back to even at 25-25 as the GWOC’s leading rusher in 2016 thundered 39 yards for his second score of the ballgame with just :43 elapsed in the period.
Five and a half minutes flew off of the clock on St. Marys first possession of the second half and as it had done on nearly every possession in the first half, ended with a Rider touchdown. Sean Perry’s first touchdown of the season, a 10 yard jaunt pushed the visitors back out to a seven point lead at 32-25.
A turnover on downs by Sidney and a punt by St. Marys gave the Yellow Jackets the football inside the Riders territory for the second time in the half. As he had done earlier on in the game, Andre Gordon crossed the St. Marys goal line, this time from four yards out to tie the contest at 32-32 with 9:54 to go.
With their defense able to rise up and force the Roughriders to punt for the second straight possession, Sidney took over on their own 35 with 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter and ultimately pushed ahead for good when Bowser scored from four yards away to give the home team a 39-32 advantage.
St. Marys last possession of the game began from their own 40 yard line thanks to a Dunlap kickoff return, but came to an end inside the Sidney 40 when Toledo committed defensive lineman Devan Rogers pilfered a Clements pass to help secure the win for his squad.
Sidney (1-0) and Head Coach Adam Doenges were led by the dual threat of Andre Gordon who connected on 10/14 passes for 185 yards, and rushed for a pair of scored and 67 yards on 9 carries. Isaiah Bowser added 205 yards for his sixth career 200+ yard rushing game to go along with his two touchdowns on the ground. As a team the Jackets amassed 426 total yards on 48 plays.
The Roughriders (0-1) fall for the first time in four games against the Yellow Jackets despite totaling 417 yards by their young offense on 63 plays. On the ground St. Marys rushed 55 times for 276 yards, while Clements finished 5/9 for 141 yards and a pair of scores to Dunlap on the evening.
Both teams will return to action next Friday night as Sidney travels to Bellefontaine while the Riders are off to Ottawa to take on a Titan team they have not beaten since 2009.