SIDNEY — Turnovers in rainy conditions cost Sidney for the second consecutive week in a Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division game on Friday.
The Yellow Jackets lost two fumbles and had two interceptions, which Butler took advantage of to earn a 27-9 win at Sidney Memorial Stadium. The Aviators moved more solidly into playoff contention with the win that moved them to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the GWOC North.
Butler senior running back Ryan Martin scored two touchdowns for the Aviators in the first half, with both coming on drives that started after Sidney miscues. Nicholas Coyle then forced and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter to put Butler up 20-3.
The Yellow Jackets (4-5, 1-3 GWOC North) had 232 yards of offense while the Aviators (6-3, 3-1) had 231. The two squads relied heavily on their running attacks in the rain. The Yellow Jackets ran 44 times for 141 yards, while the Aviators ran 47 times for 199 yards.
Butler converted 5-of-12 third downs in the game and 1-of-2 fourth downs.
Butler will close the regular season at Tippecanoe on Friday as the Aviators look to get seven wins for the first time since 2015 and just the second time since 2005. Sidney will wrap up the season next Friday against Greenville. The Yellow Jackets will look to retain the Little Brown Jug, which they’ve had in their possession since beating the Green Wave 42-27 in 2016.
Sidney had three turnovers in the first half as Butler built a 14-3 halftime lead. The Yellow Jackets had a long drive at the start of the second half that stalled at Butler’s 15 and resulted in a turnover on downs. The Aviators went three-and-out on their next drive, and Sidney got the ball at its own 47.
The Yellow Jackets didn’t have the ball for long.
After a couple of plays moved the ball to the Butler 40-yard line, Nicholas Coyle stripped Sidney freshman running back E.J. Davis of the ball and returned it about 65 yards for a touchdown. The Aviators missed the extra point but had a 20-3 lead with 4:19 left in the third.
Coyle also had a fumble recovery in the first half and led Butler with 16 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Sidney head coach Adam Doenges said of Coyle. “After watching more film on him this week, I think he’s just as good as (Sam) Jackson from Troy. He’s a really, really good linebacker that does some good things. He was just able to rip it out and take it with him.”
The Yellow Jackets were forced to punt on their next drive, but senior defensive back Josh Harlett forced a fumble and junior safety Clay Carter recovered at Butler’s 26 with about two minutes left.
Sidney quickly drove down the field. Junior quarterback Ryan Dunham ran 16 yards to give the Jackets a first-and-goal at the 2, and senior running back Caleb Harris ran in from a yard out two plays later. A bad punt on the extra point prevented Sidney from getting a kick off, but Butler’s lead was cut to 20-9 with 11:10 left in the fourth.
The Aviators quickly recaptured momentum. After recovering an onside kick from Sidney, Butler faced a 4th-and-1 at Sidney’s 28. Quarterback Mason Motter pulled the ball back from a handoff and then ran to the left of the line, dodged Sidney defenders and scored to boost the lead to 27-9 with 8:15 left in the fourth.
“It’s probably a good call for him to pull the ball out,” Doenges said. “We probably sold out on the inside run there, and I think we might have lost our edge there from a couple of players. But that’s just a good play by Motter. He’s a good quarterback.”
Martin was stopped on a run up the middle on fourth down on the game’s first drive and Sidney took over at its own 28-yard line. The Yellow Jackets fumbled a handoff a few plays later, and Butler recovered at the 27.
The Aviators later punted to the 19, but Sidney went three-and-out. The Yellow Jackets couldn’t grab on to a snap on a punt attempt and recovered the ball on their own 6. Martin ran in on the next play and Butler completed a pass on a two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead with 5:35 left in the first quarter.
Butler’s Nick Murphy intercepted a pass and returned it to Butler’s 49 a few minutes later. Martin had a 23-yard run to move it to the 2 and then ran it in from a yard out two plays later on the first play of the second quarter to give Butler a 14-0 lead after a missed extra point.
Alex Joynes intercepted a tipped pass a couple of minutes later, but a holding penalty on the return pinned Butler at its own 25. The Aviators punted to Sidney’s 18 with about 4:30 left, and the Yellow Jackets went on a big drive before halftime.
A Dunham pass to Lathan Jones, a series of Harris runs and a run by Quamir Brown gave the Yellow Jackets a first down at Butler’s 12. Darren Taborn couldn’t hold onto a potential touchdown catch in the rain on third down, and Hallie Truesdale kicked a 26-yard field goal with 22.8 seconds left to pull Sidney within 14-3.
Harris ran for 108 yards on 29 carries for Sidney, while Brown ran for 38 yards on six carries and caught three passes for 41 yards. Dunham completed 8-of-23 passes for 91 yards.
Motter ran for 125 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown while Martin gained 73 yards and two scores on the ground.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.