Faced with another second half collapse, this time the Tippecanoe Red Devils rallied. The Red Devils took advantage of Sidney mistakes, an overpowering running game, and a bend but don’t break defense to gain their first GWOC American North victory.
Tipp City — Going into Friday night’s contest at the Park in Tipp City, the Tippecanoe Red Devils had never beaten the Sidney Yellow Jackets.
OK, OK, they had only met twice before, once in 1913 (24-7 Sidney) and once in 1988 (33-13 Jackets.) Still the Red Devils were winless against the Yellow and Black.
They can’t say that any longer.
In a game that they needed to win even more than they wanted to win, the Red Devils made all the plays down the stretch, scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Sidney 31-21 and claim their first ever win against the Jackets and in the GWOC American North.
“That was a tough game,” said a happy Tippecanoe coach Joel Derge after the Red Devils’ Homecoming win. “Both teams really played hard. The defense got a score for us, and then got the turnover to set up a field goal, so we overcame some adversity tonight.”
“Prove it!” is the Red Devils motto for the season. Prove that they belong in the GWOC American North with teams like Piqua, Troy, Butler, Greenville and Sidney. After a 35-7 loss to the Trojans last week in which they gained less than 200 yards total offense, the motto meant even more this week.
“We just want to prove ourselves in the GWOC every week,” Derge explained. “We want to play hard and represent our community with class.”
For the second straight week, Sidney was slow out of the gate, and the Red Devils took full advantage. Cole Barhorst covered 43 yards in four plays on Tipp’s opening drive to make it 7-0, then ran 44 yards late in the quarter to put the home team up 14-0.
“The line did a great job, especially early,” said Barhorst, a 5-8, 185-pound junior who finished with 192 yards on 25 carries. “That’s what we preached all week. Do your job. After last week’s loss to Troy, we were pretty hyped up for this one. We overcame some adversity tonight and got the win.”
Sidney gained some momentum with a 9 play, 71-yard drive culminating in an Isaiah Bowser 1-yard touchdown run, and the Red Devils carried a precarious 14-7 lead to the locker-room.
Barhorst, who ran for 156 yards on 17 first half carries, was slammed to the turf for a one-yard loss on his first carry of the third quarter, and momentum officially switched sides. After a three and out by the Red Devils, Sidney quarterback Dillon King hit Connor Beer on a crossing pattern, and the senior out-ran the Tipp defense for a 67 yard score. Tie game!
Sidney then put together the drive of the night the next time the Jackets had the football. Starting from their own 18, the Jackets methodically drove downfield. 82 Yards and 15 plays and 5 minutes later, Bowser scored from the 16, and the Jackets carried a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the previous three weeks, the Red Devils had allowed 76 points to Trotwood, Fairborn and Troy in the second half alone. So there was more than a little buzz in the crowd when the Jackets rallied to take the lead. This time, however, the Red Devils had an answer.
Tipp marched 65 yards in 7 plays, and Quenten Williams pulled the Red Devils to within a point on a 19- yard run. Caiden Smith’s extra point was blocked, and Sidney still led 21-20.
Instead of using that play for momentum, the Yellow Jackets simply imploded. After a penalty moved Sidney back to its own four, a wild snap eluded King in the end zone and Evan Hamilton recovered for a Tippecanoe touchdown. Quarterback Aaron Hughes found Nyles Anderson in the end zone for a two- point conversion, and the Red Devils had scored 14 points in 14 seconds for a 28-21 lead.
More bad fortune ended Sidney’s next possession. King threw a swing pass to Devan Rogers, but as the 6-2 285 pounder ran over would be tacklers, he lost the football. Tipp recovered at the Sidney 24, and the Red Devils used over four minutes setting up Smith’s 20 yard field goal that iced the game.
“We were able to run inside early, and our outside running game was really good in the second half,” said Barhorst. “We have three of the best running backs in the area, in my opinion, and we just have to put things together. We have to come out and play better in the second half. That’s been costing us ballgames, but tonight we overcame that and I hope this is a turning point for the rest of the season.”
To prove Barhorst’s point, Williams, along with Anderson and quarterback Hughes, were indeed huge factors in the game. When the Yellow Jackets started to key on Barhorst, those three ran 28 times for 164 yards, nearly all of that yardage coming in the second half.
“He’s a great back and our workhorse,” Derge said of Barhorst. “We got great contributions by everybody back there tonight. We know he will get the tough yards inside and we have some guys that make things happen on the perimeter as well.
For the second week in a row, Sidney had trouble getting their running game into gear. After averaging 8.5 yards a carry the first five weeks of the season, Bowser again found the going extremely tough. The 6-1, 195-pound junior carried 36 times, but averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on his way to a 121-yard night.
King did his part in his second start, completing 13 of 27 passes for 235 yards. He found senior wide receiver Beer 7 times for 152 yards.
Derge said that the defense was the focus of the week.
“We have been spending more time on defense in practice. We corrected some things and moved some guys around. We always want to stop the run, and we did a pretty good job of that, especially in the first half. They had a big play off a reverse pass, and then the touchdown pass in the third quarter. We were good against the run, but have got to get better defending the pass.
“This was a must win for us tonight,” Derge concluded. “We have to get ready for Greenville, a team that we have played for ten years and are very familiar with. If we want to win the GWOC, we obviously are going to need some help, but we just have to keep winning. We aren’t worried about the playoffs. Just take one game at a time and keep winning. That’s our focus.”