The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Sidney comeback falls just short

Lewis' 296 rushing yards keep Raiders close on blustery night

 

While a frigid wind from the north carried a sideways snowfall 30 mph across Weymouth Field, the Sidney Red Raiders dropped a heartbreaking 27-24 loss to the Lexington Minutemen in a non-distict contest Friday night.

After opening the season with three straight victories the Sidney gridders have since backpedaled to even their mark at 3-3. Lexington's win advances them to 3-3 as well.

As the game wore on, the slick field became more-and-more of an issue.

"It was alright really, but I did lose my footing a couple of times," said Raiders running back Chance Anglin who piled up his fourth 100-plus yard game despite the conditions.

While Anglin is often employed to seek yards outside the tackles, the hard cuts required of that game plan became more risky as the game progressed. By the second half the Raiders began to increasingly rely on the talents of senior running back Logan Lewis for straight-ahead running.

He toted the ball 40 times for 296 yards and a touchdown. Lewis has run his season total to 1,050 rushing yards in just six games. Though he may have been haunted by a fourth-quarter fumble, it was largely the running of Lewis that gave the Raiders several second-half opportunities to complete a dramatic comeback.

Despite the tough loss, the Red Raiders enter a second season - of sorts - next week when district play begins. The final three weeks of Sidney's regular season will be played exclusively against Class B District 8 opponents. Two of those contests will be on enemy soil.

The Raiders spend the next two weeks on the road at Alliance and Gering. The battle for district supremacy may very well be decided at Weymouth Field on Oct. 25, when the Scottsbluff Bearcats visit Sidney.

The Bearcats (4-2) gave the second-ranked Aurora Huskies (5-1) all they could handle Sept. 27, in Scottsbluff. Ultimately, Aurora stormed back from a 21-7 deficit to edge the Bearcats with 21 unanswered second-half points.

The Huskies are likely to drop a few pegs this week after losing a 29-7 decision at home to 10th ranked Crete on Friday.

Scottsbluff rebounded from the reversal against Aurora with a 38-0 pasting at Grand Island Northwest on Friday. Sidney easily handled Northwest in its season opener 44-22. In other district action Friday night, McCook dropped Alliance 24-6 while Hastings upended Gering 21-14 in overtime. The losses put Alliance at 3-3 while Gering remains below .500 at 2-4.

"It's a letdown that's for sure," said Sidney quarterback Lane Harvey. "But with districts starting next week that's really all that matters at this point. Just win districts."

Said Anglin, "With districts starting up next week all our playoff goals are still there. We can still make it."

As for the Raiders final non-district game, they were unable to overcome an overwhelming field-position disadvantage in the first half. When they went into the comfort of their warm locker room after two quarters, Sidney found themselves in a 20-6 hole.

The Minutemen were aided in the first 24 minutes by an average starting position at their own 46-yard line. By contrast, Sidney opened its drives from their own 25, on average. In three of its six first-half possessions, Lexington started on the Raiders side of the field.

Nevertheless, Sidney looked much the stronger of the two teams in the final 24 minutes. The Raiders took the ball first in the third quarter and marched steadily downfield into the stiff wind. The procession went 70 yards in 11 plays.

The drive ended when quarterback Lane Harvey took Michael Sukup's snap and bulled his way past his center's block into the endzone from inside the one. Anglin shook off a Minuteman defender and reached over the line for the two-point conversion and cut the deficit to six at 20-14.

But Sidney's defensive corps were the real stars of the second half. Despite allowing Lexington a quick answer to Harvey's touchdown, the Minutemen never again gained even so much as a first down afterwards.

On that final scoring drive for Lexington, Jake Sager stopped Lexington's Patrick Spicer for no gain on first down. But the visitors changed their fortunes by going to the air. They gained 24 yards over the following three plays. Eric Lemus capped the 61-yard march with a 25-yard scamper down the home sideline. Kicker Josue Ayala booted the point after for a 27-14 lead. Ayala's leg accounted for nine points on the night.

Sidney answered on their next posession by travelling 85 yards in 4:12. Lewis opened the drive by taking four consecutive handoffs from Harvey in which he gobbled up 52 yards. Anglin (24-114) then spelled Lewis with a 13-yard bolt and freshman Peyton Hill followed for three more. Sidney was then aided by two personal-foul penalties on consecutive snaps.

First Michael Deaver was thrown to the ground and then Anglin was grabbed by his facemask. The second penalty gave the Raiders a first-and-goal at the six. Anglin covered the final two yards and Lewis ran in the conversion to slice Lexington's lead to 27-22 with 38.6 seconds left in the third frame.

While the Raider defense held the Minutemen offense at bay, Sidney had three fourth-quarter drives down wind that were a combination of outstanding running by Lewis and missed opportunities.

On the first of those drives Lewis took the ball seven straight times that ate up 57 yards before he lost the rock at the Lexington three.

"We wouldn't have gotten as far as we did without Logan in the first place," Harvey said. "There were plenty of other opportunities that we could have capitalized on."

On one play during the drive, Lewis was met near the line of scrimmage by a small army of rebels on a second-and-two play. He carried several Minutemen tacklers for seven yards before going down with a first-and-10.

Shortly thereafter, the Raider defense gave Sidney another chance. Lexington went three-and-out and punted from its own end zone. The 31-yard boot gave Sidney first-and-10 at the Lexington 38. Sidney, however, was forced to turn the ball over on downs when it reached the 19.

Sidney's Tucker Wintholz and Lucas Rosenbaum made Lexington's next offensive series brief. Wintholz sacked Minuteman quarterback Morgan Ansbach for a six-yard loss on first down. On third down Rosenbaum broke up an Ansbach pass near the first-down marker and nearly had an interception.

Sidney's next possession began at the Lexington 43. Lewis ran for 21 yards on a second-and-11 play but the drive stalled at the 10 with Harvey scrambling for an open receiver on fourth down. A desperate pass to the far side of the endzone fell short.

The ensuing Lexington drive was comprised of three short rushes before they took an intentional safety on fourth down with 21 seconds to go.

"We had those three drives that ended inside their 20," said Raiders Head Coach Todd Ekart. "We just can't have that. We have to make the plays."

Yet it was a reversal of first half forturnes. Sidney's field position issues helped Lexington score on their opening possession. From their own 41 the Minutemen did a little close-order drill that took them to the endzone in four plays. Ansbach went over from the one and Ayala put the cherry on top for a 7-0 lead. Ansbach opened the drive with a 21-yard burn.

Lexington's second possession began at Sidney's 36. Though Brian Rolls dragged down Ansbach for a four-yard loss on second-and-inches, the Raiders gave back the lost ground on third down with an offsides penalty. Sidney forced their guests into a fouth-and-six at the 21 but Ayala came on to boot a 38-yard field goal down wind for a 10-0 lead.

The Raiders followed Lexington's three pointer with a scoring drive of their own. With Anglin and Lewis doing most of the running the Raiders went for 76-yard touchdown sprint that took just 2:08. Lewis had the big carry of the march with a 36-yard scamper that went from the Sidney 32 to the Lexington 32. Anglin followed with a 15 yarder. It was Lewis' turn when he ran it in from the four to cut the margin to four at 10-6.

Lexington got three on its ensuing drive. Rolls again dropped Ansbach for a loss early in the drive. The Lexington quarterback, however, found Marco Muniz on the next play for a 15-yard gainer on third-and-13. When the Minutemen reached the Sidney six, Dominic Beyer tackled Ansbach for another three-yard loss on third down. But it only made Ayala's 30-yard field goal three yards longer.

The Minutemen scored their final tally of the first half after Logan Farrell blocked Harvey's punt. With a first down at the Sidney 30, Lemus needed only one play to run for the touchdown and the 20-6 halftime lead.

The game at Alliance is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Friday.

 

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