GREENVILLE — Call it the “Matt Light effect.”
While the Greenville alum and former New England Patriots offensive tackle was on hand to deliver an NFL “golden football” to the school and a $10,000 check toward the Harmon Field project, one can’t help but think his all-pro presence provided a little bit of motivation as the Greenville Green Wave defeated the Sidney Yellow Jackets 13-12 in the 2015 season finale.
When asked if he’d like to see Matt Light come to every Green Wave game, head coach Aaron Shaffer laughed, saying, “Yeah, that’d be nice.”
Light’s presence notwithstanding, the Green Wave appeared bound and determined to finish 2015 on a high note with the Little Brown Jug.
Greenville possesses the Little Brown Jug having beaten Sidney 50-33 in 2013 and 30-13 in 2014. Prior to that Sidney had the Jug for having won the teams’ meeting 38-0 in 2012, a match up that resumed the trophy battle after a 41-year break that included the Little Brown Jug going missing for more than 30 years.
The football rivalry between Greenville and Sidney dates back to 1899 and included annual Thanksgiving Day games from 1925-31, according to Sidney historian Dave Ross.
A Codi Byrd 2-yard touchdown run following a 60-yard drive commenced scoring in the largely defensive battle. The extra-point kick by Jordan Ernst put the Wave up 7-0 with 3:45 remaining in the first quarter.
A Yellow Jacket drive late in the first quarter was stopped by a Devin Hendrix interception, which gave the Wave the ball at their own 25-yard line.
The Greenville offense stalled at the Sidney 45-yard line, but a punt by Ernst buried the Yellow Jackets at their own 5. A second Hendrix interception, combined with a personal foul penalty against Sidney, gave the Green Wave prime scoring position at the Yellow Jackets’ 30.
Faced with a fourth down and 8 at the Sidney 15, Shaffer had his squad attempt the conversion, but quarterback Clay Guillozet’s pass completion to Byrd fell short of the necessary yardage.
With less than four minutes left in the half, Sidney quarterback Andre Gordon led the Yellow Jackets from deep in their own territory. A double reverse play led to a 47-yard touchdown reception by Allec Gordan with 2:19 on the clock. Sidney’s extra point attempt was no good, and Greenville led 7-6.
Another Yellow Jacket scoring opportunity presented itself when Sidney used its hurry up offense to drive the ball to the Greenville 20-yard line. A Yellow Jacket field goal attempt with four seconds left, though, fell short of the crossbars.
Sidney received the second-half kickoff, starting from its 35. Greenville’s defense stopped the drive, recovering a Yellow Jacket fumble at its own 45-yard line, but the offense was unable to capitalize on the turnover.
Still in hurry up mode, the Yellow Jackets pushed the ball from their own 10 to the Wave 12-yard line, where an Isaiah Bowser touchdown run put Sidney ahead 12-7. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, however.
Greenville’s offense found new life in the fourth quarter, helped by excellent field position. Guillozet drove the team from the Sidney 48-yard line to the Yellow Jacket 20. On fourth and 5, his pass to Bradley Mead gave Greenville the lead once more.
A pass attempt for 2 points failed, and the Wave held a 13-12 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
With the crowd chanting “Defense!” the Wave thwarted every subsequent Yellow Jacket drive, including a fourth-down stop, a second missed Sidney field-goal attempt and a fumble recovery. The Yellow Jackets’ last-second desperation pass fell incomplete, allowing Greenville to ring the bell and keep ownership of the “Little Brown Jug” for another season.
“It feels really nice to see our kids play the way they did,” Shaffer said. “We made some plays at some really crucial times.”
The Greenville squad finished the season 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the North Division of the Greater Western Ohio Conference.