Red Raiders Hold Off Haymakers, Stay Unbeaten
Raiders Struggle Through First Half, Turn On Offense in Second Half
October 12, 2023
SIDNEY--After defeating district rival Chadron last week, Sidney hoped that the Red Raiders would not have much trouble against a three-win Cozad team at Weymouth Field. However, the Haymakers always give the Red Raiders a tough fight, and Friday's contest proved no different.
Sidney started the game on offense, and looked a bit disjointed in their first possession, with senior running back Luke Holly fumbling, then recovering the ball, on a run for a loss. A third down incompletion led to senior Isak Doty punting the ball, and Cozad taking over. The Haymakers opened with a no-huddle offense that seemed to put the Red Raider defense off-balance. The Haymakers marched down the field, and were set up for a score when they rushed to the Sidney 8 yard line for a first and goal. The Red Raider defense held, prompting a fourth down on the 8 yard line. Cozad opted to not try a field goal, and junior quarterback Noah Shoemaker dropped back for a pass. Sidney's defense had all of the receivers covered, so Shoemaker took off towards the left side of the end zone. Luke Holly hit Shoemaker at the 1 yard line, but Shoemaker was able to contort and stretch his body over the goal line for a touchdown, and after a successful point after attempt, the Haymakers had an early 7-to-0 lead.
Sidney's offense again stalled on their second drive, prompting another Doty punt. The short kick was received at midfield and then returned to the Sidney 20 yard line. Sidney caught a big break when Shoemaker threw a short pass to senior receiver Dreu White who was hit immediately by Sidney junior Reid Fiscus, causing a fumble. Luke Holly recovered the fumble, and Sidney's offense started at their own 18 yard line. Once again, the offense could not muster any yardage, with the Haymakers doing a good job of covering the ends and forcing Sidney's rushing attack inside. Doty punted, and Cozad started at midfield.
The first quarter ended, and early in the second quarter, the Haymakers drove down to the Sidney 24 yard line. On fourth down and four, Shoemaker tried a pass, but Sidney senior Trasyn Uhrig made a great play and knocked the pass away to get Sidney the ball back. The Raider offense started to have some success, stringing together a series of first downs on runs by Holly and Doty. Sidney kept chipping away until they were around the Cozad 30 yard line, where Doty ran up the middle, then broke away to the right side, turned the corner and scampered into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point kick was blocked, and Cozad led, 7-to-6. Sidney had Cozad trapped deep in their own territory as time wound down in the half, but the Haymakers were able to avoid disaster by opting not to punt and having Shoemaker throw out of bounds while in the end zone to run out the clock.
Cozad started on offense in the second half, but Sidney shut down their first drive and forced a punt. Sidney then started moving the ball effectively, with Doty and Holly running and Doty completing a few passes. The drive ended with a Holly rushing touchdown, and a failed two-point conversion, giving Sidney a 12-to-7 lead. The Sidney defense forced a Cozad three-and-out, and the Sidney offense marched down the field and ended their drive with a Doty 15 yard touchdown run, giving the Red Raiders a 19-to-7 lead. There was no quit in the Cozad team, and they were able to cash in on a long touchdown pass during their next drive , narrowing the Sidney lead to 19-to-14. Sidney had little trouble moving the ball down the field, with the Haymaker defense overreacting to the Read-Option play, and Doty making the defense pay dearly for not staying in position. The drive ended with another Doty touchdown run, and the Raiders led 26-to-14.
Cozad started to drive with time starting to wind down in the fourth quarter, but a Shoemaker pass was intercepted by sophomore Alek Doty at midfield. Sidney tried to take as much time off the clock as possible to put the game away, but was unable to convert on a fourth down and two, giving the Haymakers the ball back at midfield. The next series started well for the Raiders with freshman Rhys Dorcey sacking Shoemaker on first down, but on fourth down, Shoemaker connected on a short pass, and the Haymaker receiver took the ball all the way down to the Sidney one yard line. On the next play, the Haymakers scored to narrow the Sidney lead to 26-to-21.
Everyone at the stadium knew that Cozad would try an onside kick with only about two minutes left to play, but senior McGuire Rolls, the sure-handed Sidney center, was able to pounce on the onside kick. Sidney was able to gain a first down after Cozad exhausted all of their time outs, and the game ended in a kneel-down and a 26-to-21 Sidney win.
Isak Doty completed 6 of 11 passes for 61 yards, and rushed 26 times for 168 yards and 3 touchdowns. Luke Holly rushed 26 times for 121 yards and a touchdown. Junior Landon Riddle caught 3 passes for 29 yards for Sidney. Sidney had 350 total yards versus Cozad's 243 yards in the win. The Red Raiders move to 7-and-0 on the season, and next travel to Ogallala to take on the 5-and-2 Indians.
The Indians are led by outstanding senior quarterback Caden Rezac, and the Red Raiders will have to contain him to keep their undefeated record intact.