Sidney at Laurel football

Sidney visits Laurel for a Class A football game on Friday at the Laurel Sports Complex. The Locomotives prevailed, 25-0.

LAUREL — One of Laurel’s many defensive philosophies, as coach Mike Ludwig explains it, is the following:

No touchdowns after a sudden change.

The No. 2-ranked Locomotives got several opportunities to live by that credo on a smoky and windy Friday night as their offense committed five turnovers. But the defense came through each time and pitched a shutout in a 25-0 victory over Eastern A rival Sidney at the LHS Sports Complex.

“I thought our defense played really well. We held them off the board,” Ludwig said afterward. “But our goal on offense is no turnovers, and that’s going to come back to bite us if we don’t get that fixed really fast, like by next Friday night.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to take care of the football better.”

Laurel’s defense limited Sidney to 140 yards of offense and kept slippery running back Aden Graves at bay, holding him to 62 yards on 15 carries. Eagles quarterback Zander Dean, who Ludwig described as “scary,” completed three passes and was under duress for much of the night, though he did break away a few times.

Roundup of high school football scores from Friday night of week 3.

Despite struggling to protect the football, Laurel’s offense found its rhythm, especially in the second half. Quarterback Kyson Moran threw three touchdown passes, including a pretty ball up the seam to Konnor Gregerson for a 27-yard score with 5:47 left to put the game away.

Running back Beau Dantic scored a pair of touchdowns — a 15-yard run in the first quarter and a 15-yard reception in the fourth. The Locomotives also got a big lift at the end of the second quarter with a Moran-to-Dalton Boehler Hail Mary as time expired.

The bomb to Boehler, which covered 35 yards, tipped off of fingers and into the receiver’s arms, which deflated the Eagles, who then trailed 12-0.

“You relax a little bit right there before half and they get another 6 on the board,” Sidney coach Roger Merritt said. “If it was 6-0 coming into the third quarter it’s a little different game.”

“We created some opportunities and just didn’t take advantage of it and we didn’t get any points out of it,” Merritt added. “That makes for a long game when you don’t capitalize.”

Dantic led Laurel with 82 rushing yards on 16 attempts. Moran completed 10 of 14 passes for 158 yards. He completed each of his final six throws, three of which accounted for the Locomotives’ touchdowns through the air.

But Laurel’s giveaways handed Sidney extra possessions and additional opportunities. The Eagles recovered two fumbles, and Dean and Jerome Entz each intercepted Moran on separate occasions.

The Eagles, though, were forced to punt on all five of their first-half possessions and managed just 38 total yards of offense in the first two quarters. They dialed up a few big plays in the second half — including a 22-yard pass from Dean to Zander Burnison  — but points eluded them.

Meanwhile, Laurel’s offense became more efficient as the game progressed.

“It’s obviously a really important thing to cover up the ball,” Dantic said, noting the turnovers. “It’s definitely one thing we need to focus on. But it’s still a good win.

“We just tried to stay positive and keep our heads up. We were trying to keep everyone fired up in the huddle and keep everyone going.”

Laurel, the defending Class A state champion, improved to 2-0. Sidney fell to 1-2.

Email Greg Rachac at Greg.Rachac@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @gregrachac

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