|Tyler Haines stops the Sidney running back for a loss.
By Rob Kiser Piqua Daily Call
The “Juice” was loose in the first half of the Piqua-Sidney football game Friday night...and so was the pigskin when Sidney had the ball.
Piqua defensive lineman A.J. “Juice” Pearson recovered two fumbles in the first two quarters and the Indians came up with five of six Yellow Jacket turnovers in the opening half as Piqua pulled away to a 30-3 victory in Greater Miami Valley Conference action.
“A.J. (Pearson) does a good job of finding the football,” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “I thought the defense did a pretty good job. Their short passing game was effective, but when we needed to stop them, we did.”
That and Piqua’s big play passing game was too much for the Yellow Jackets.
Sidney had taken a 3-0 lead when Brandon Koester kicked a 38 yard field goal, but it didn’t last long.
Two plays after the kickoff, Piqua quarterback John Pearson and receiver Jon Dolph connected on a 67 yard scoring play. It was a pattern that would continue throughout the night as Pearson made the most of nine completions, racking up 236 yards passing.
“The thing about our passing game was we hit the home run,” Nees said. “They were packing it inside and we were able to take advantage of it.”
On Piqua’s first touchdown, Dolph beat the Sidney defender down the right sideline, hauled the pass in around the 30 yard line and won the foot race to the end zone. Brad Erwin’s kick made it 7-3.
“They were sitting on me and I felt like I could blow right by them,” Dolph said. “The offensive line did a great job and John Pearson threw the ball where I was the only guy who could catch it.”
A botched punt attempt had given Sidney the ball at the Piqua 27, but the Indians defense stiffened. A bad snap on a field goal attempt popped out of several players grasps before A.J. Pearson fell on it at the Sidney 40, 22 yards behind the original line of scrimmage.
“The thing is everybody is just trying to jump on the ball and I was able to get it,” A.J. Pearson said.
Two plays later, John Pearson hooked up with Erwin in the right flat and the result was a 40 yard touchdown. The kick made it 14-3 with 8:08 remaining in the first half.
“Anytime you can hit big plays like that, it gives you a lot of momentum,” John Pearson said. “The receivers did a grat job getting open and the line did a great job of blocking.”
A.J. Pearson had another fumble recovery, but the Piqua drive stalled at the Yellow Jacket 4. After two first downs to get out of a hole, Sidney’s drive ended abruptly when Piqua linebacker Josh Landis came up with a loose ball to put Piqua’s offense on the field at the Sidney 28.
On the first play, Scott Foster rumbled 28 yards for a score to make it 20-3 with 2:35 remaining in the half.
“Scott Foster is a strong runner,” Nees said. “You just never know when he is going to break one loose.”
Sidney drove inside the Piqua 10 before half, but a Quinn Pitcock sack of quarterback Justin Miller led to a Dustin Perkins interception. Austin Netzley intercepted another pass before half and Perkins had a second interception in the second half.
“They were able to get some yardage,” Nees said. “Our defense made the plays when they had to.”
Piqua took control in the third quarter. Foster, who finished the game with 107 yards on 26 carries, began to pound away on the Sidney defense, which was on the field almost the entire third quarter.
“Sidney’s offense only had the ball for 10 plays in the third quarter,” Nees said. “That is what we talked about at halftime. We wanted to keep their offense off the field.”
Brad Erwin booted a 35 yard field goal with plenty to spare and Dolph, who finished with four catches for 172 yards, tacked on a 71 yard touchdown pass from John Pearson, leaving the Sidney defender pounding his feet into the ground in frustration.
“They had a lot of guys that were going both ways,” Dolph said. “I felt like they were getting tired. John Pearson made a great throw.”
Bryan King had a big night receiving for Sidney, catching 11 passes for 162 yards.
Miller completed 19 of 35 passes for 212 yards, while John Pearson was 9 for 19 for 236 yards.
Piqua, 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the GMVC, will play at Northmont Friday night. Sidney drops to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the GMVC.
Piqua had no trouble retaining the “Battered Helmet” or sending home happy a crowd that saw Julie Hall, Jim Hardman, George “Bucky” Wertz Jr., Mike Ostendorf, Keith Cummins and Raymond Mote inducted into the Piqua Athletic Hall of Fame.