SIDNEY – For the first time in four years Greenville lost the battle for the Little Brown Jug as the Green Wave fell 42-27 to Sidney in the teams’ season finale on Friday night in Sidney.
It was a back-and-forth contest with neither team being able to go ahead by more than a score until the fourth quarter. Even then Greenville had a chance with less than two minutes to go to tie the game before Sidney sealed its victory with an interception return for a touchdown.
“Those guys, and everybody for that matter, but the seniors they come out and battle their tails off day in and day out,” Greenville football coach Aaron Shaffer said. “It was looking pretty bleak there down two scores with not much time left to go out there and keep battling to get yourself a chance, it shows a lot about their character. Character will carry you a long way in life. There’s no doubt that our kids have a ton of it. I’m just proud of their effort.”
Greenville found itself in an early hole as Sidney took the game’s opening possession 70 yards for a touchdown, capped off by a 2-yard run by Isaiah Bowser, for a 7-0 lead.
Greenville got on the scoreboard late in the quarter as the Green Wave took their second possession 71 yards. Logan Eldridge finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run before the Wave missed the extra point to make it a 7-6 game.
Greenville’s defense came up big early in the fourth quarter as the Wave, backed up to their own 18, forced a turnover on downs. Sidney’s defense then came up with an even bigger play, however, as Allec Gordan intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Yellow Jackets a 14-6 advantage.
Undeterred Greenville took its next possession 91 yards for a score with Eldridge scoring from 1 yard out. Owen Paulus then connected with Aaron Rich for a two-point conversion pass to tie the game at 14-14 with 4:32 remaining in the half.
Sidney quickly regained the lead, though, as the Jackets took their next possession 57 yards for a score. Bowser, the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s leading rusher, scored from 13 yards out to put Sidney back on top, 21-14.
“We had to be able to contain (Bowser) a little better, I think,” Shaffer said. “I haven’t seen what he did, but just the feeling is he was able to get loose on us a couple times.”
In the second half Greenville tied the game back up after Eldridge set the Wave up for a score by blocking a punt, which Micah Light recovered at the Sidney 9-yard line. Two plays later Eldridge ran for a touchdown, his third of the night, to make it 21-21.
Sidney took just four offensive plays to regain the lead with Bowser running 6 yards for a score, putting the Yellow Jackets ahead 28-21.
It remained a seven-point game until the fourth quarter. Gordan’s second interception of the night set up a three-play, 35-yard scoring drive for Sidney. Bowser scored for the fourth time, making it 35-21 in favor of the home team with 5:35 remaining.
Greenville’s chances at a comeback dimmed when Sidney’s Josiah Hudgins intercepted a pass, setting up the Jackets in Green Wave territory. However, the Greenville defense came up with a stop and got the Wave the ball back with 2:49 remaining.
After struggling to throw the ball for 45 minutes, Greenville’s passing attack finally started to click late in the game. Paulus had six completions to guide the Wave 72 yards down the field for a score, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown reception by Trae Wood. The extra point was no good, but Greenville was within one score at 35-27 with 1:44 remaining.
After failing to recover an onside kick, Greenville caught a break when Devin Hendrix recovered a Sidney fumble on the Jackets’ next play from scrimmage.
“To have the ball with a minute and some left approaching their end, give yourself a chance to maybe see what happens if the ball goes in the air, it’s a crazy game,” Shaffer said. “Who would have thought we would have gotten the ball back after we didn’t get the onside kick?”
With just over a minute and a half left Greenville had a chance to tie the game but saw its hopes slip away when Sidney’s Dillon King returned an interception for a touchdown to make it 42-27 with just 55 seconds remaining.
Sidney then intercepted one more pass with just eight seconds left, and the Jackets took a knee to end the game.
Unofficially Greenville had a total of 353 yards on offense, 253 on the ground and 100 through the air. Sidney had 389 yards unofficially, 285 rushing and 104 passing.
Eldridge led Greenville with 216 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries. He also caught two passes for 13 yards and had a blocked punt on special teams.
Paulus was 12-of-32 passing for 100 yards, a touchdown and five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Justin Brown was Greenville’s leading receiver with five catches for 48 yards, Rich caught four passes for 32 yards, and Wood caught one pass for a 7-yard touchdown.
Bowser ran 41 times for 282 yards and four touchdowns for Sidney.
Jack Feazel was 6-for-16 passing for 104 yards. Gordan caught three passes for 59 yards, Conor Beer caught two for 30 yards, and Andre Gordon caught one for 15 yards.
Sidney finished the season 4-6 overall and 1-4 in the GWOC’s American North division. After starting the year 3-1, Greenville finished with a 3-7 record and a 0-5 mark in the American North.
Friday also marked the end of the high school football careers of Greenville’s seniors: Brandon Beyke, Jacob Bradfield, Justin Brown, Christian Chalmers, Issac Cook, Logan Eldridge, Logan Gonzalez, Johnathan Heeter, Devin Hendrix, Dalton Kopilec, Erick Madison, Genesis Malin, Kyle Phillips, Aaron Rich, Carson Shilt, Elias Watters and Trae Wood.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.