SIDNEY _ Backed by a running game that churned out 253 yards and defense that permitted three first downs, Sidney outmuscled Greene to win a key Section Four Football Conference Division V game, 21-8, on a misty and foggy Friday night.
In muddy conditions that have become the norm at Sidney, senior Nate McDonald rushed for 171 yards on 23 physical carries and junior quarterback Patrick Vibbard threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Warriors improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in division.
“Well, this is our field,” said Sidney’s Brandon Walters, whose play at hard-nosed play at fullback and linebacker proved pivotal on a night when most of the action took place between the tackles. “We know how to play in these conditions. No one plays better than us in these conditions.”
Sidney penetrated Greene’s 35 three times in the first half but had nothing to show for it.
But just like last week’s 26-0 victory over Walton, Sidney put a drive together late in the half to snap a scoreless tie.
The Warriors drove 53 yards on 14 plays, with Vibbard hitting on a pair of fourth-down passes.
The first came on a fourth-and-7 from Greene’s 39. Vibbard found Damian Zimmer over the middle for a 17-yard gain. Then on a third-and-9 from the 21, Vibbard hit Billy Kozak on the right side for a 10-yard gain.
On third-and-goal from the 3, McDonald lost possession, but Sidney lineman Zach Nages recovered at the 5.
Vibbard rolled right on the next play and hit tight end Mike Cruz on an out pattern. Cruz caught it at the 1 and just slipped inside the right pylon with 26 seconds left in the half. Kozak scored easily around the left end on the two-point play to make it 8-0.
“That was big,” said Vibbard, who finished 6-for-10 for 65 yards. “We had a couple of drives where we couldn’t punch it in and we had a couple of fumbles, so that score was the game-changer.”
Late in the third quarter, the Trojans (3-2, 0-2) opted to go for it on a fourth-and-1 from its 29. Mike Beckwith got the carry up the middle, but a host of Sidney tacklers stopped him for no gain.
Kozak then ripped off runs of 9 and 8 yards to move the ball to the 12. Both times, Kozak took pitches from Vibbard heading right before cutting abruptly in the middle of the field for sizeable gains.
On third-and-8 from the 10, Vibbard rolled right before hitting Mike Ward at the 5. Ward turned to the middle and just got into the end zone to make it 14-0, with 11:28 left in the fourth quarter.
Greene answered on the ensuing kickoff. Dan Treadwell picked up a squibbed kick at the 28, made a pair of Sidney defenders miss and raced 72 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown. Treadwell then sprinted around the right end on the two-point play, cutting Sidney’s lead to 14-8.
The Warriors went to a gadget play on the next kickoff.
McDonald fielded the ball on the 26 and went into a makeshift huddle with four teammates. McDonald kept the ball, slipped a tackle and zipped up the left sideline before being tackled at Greene’s 36.
Sidney’s drive stalled at the 23, but Zimmer intercepted a pass by Joe Beckwith at the Warriors’ 49 to end the Trojans’ possession.
McDonald then ripped off a 9-yard run on the next play, but
he fumbled while dragging three defenders at the end of the run.
Greene recovered at its 43.
Joe Beckwith’s 13-yard scramble gave the Trojans a first down at Sidney’s 44 with about three minutes left.
But then Sidney’s defense stiffened.
Mike Beckwith was dropped for a 1-yard loss on first down, Joe Beckwith was stopped after 1 yard on second down and Mike Chase sacked Joe Beckwith for a 6-yard loss on third down.
On fourth down, Joe Beckwith pitched Cole Browning heading right. Browning then tried to throw, but his pass toward Luke Whittaker was overthrown, giving Sidney possession with 1:12 left.
“But teams played physical, but our coach put us in great position with the keys we had with the line calls, the linebackers filled great tonight _ great job by Mike Cruz and Chase.
Two plays later, McDonald broke a 51-yard touchdown along the right sideline.
“He did run hard,” Matthews said of McDonald, who was used sparingly in the running game last week against Walton. “I was thinking last week, we had to find some other avenues to move the ball, so I think he was on a mission tonight.”
Sidney plays host to unbeaten Chenango Forks on Friday in a game that likely will decide the Division V title.