SHARPSVILLE - As the Tri-Central Trojans celebrated their second consecutive Hoosier Heartland Conference championship a few yards away, Sheridan head coach Bud "Larry" Wright had a singular reflection.

"The third quarter killed us," Wright said after his team fell to seventh-ranked Trojans in the regular-season finale 40-21. "We didn't have the ball very much at all."

Deadlocked in a 14-14 tie at halftime, the Sheridan Blackhawks (5-4, 3-1) had kept pace via the home run play, scoring on a 55-yard touchdown run by Austin Hoover in the first quarter to cut the deficit 8-7.

In the second quarter, quarterback Garret Chesney found his brother Jacob for a 95-yard juggling touchdown pass on third down, which bounced off Tri-Central defender Brendon Groves.

The final two quarters were built to be a tremendous finish between two bitter HHC rivals.

The third quarter put a damper on those plans from Sheridan's initial possession. Fumbling the ball away for the second time in the game, Tri-Central put together an 11-play drive. They padded the series with nine run plays from Dillon Smith and Cody Colbert and capped it with an 8-yard Cody Howell touchdown pass.

Smith rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown while Colbert added 152 yards on 26 carries for two rushing touchdowns.

Colbert also added a touchdown reception, which kicked off Tri-Central's 26-point second half.

With a 21-14 lead, the Trojans (8-1, 4-0) went for broke on the ensuring kickoff as Jarron Grubb recovered an onside to put Tri-Central on Sheridan's 47.

"The onside kick really hurt," Wright said. "We just didn't have it."

Howell, who passed for 159 yards, highlighted the drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Dowell to give the Trojans a 28-14 advantage.

Sheridan responded with another big play as Jacob Chesney sprinted 51 yards for a touchdown. The drive only last 1:04. It was a stark contrast to what the Trojans plodding offense would muster in the final quarter.

Stringing together two long drives, spanning more than 10 minutes combined, Tri-Central played keep away while an ill-timed Garret Chesney interception as Sheridan trailed 34-21 early in the fourth proved costly.

On their final scoring drive, the Trojans ate seven minutes off the clock to pound the ball 51 yards.

"They're a good football team," Wright said. "They have some good ball carriers. They're quick. They run the option offense, so you have to be disciplined. We weren't disciplined enough to stop it."

The defeat marked the first time in program history Tri-Central had defeated Sheridan in three consecutive meetings and was only its fourth win in 30 years against coach Wright's Blackhawks.

Last year, the Trojans edged Sheridan in the regular-season finale for the HHC title and also eliminated them from the sectional semifinal before going on to win their first state championship.

Tri-Central was scheduled to open Sectional 44 against Clinton Prairie on Oct. 24, but the Gophers forfeited the remainder of its games this season.

According to reports, multiple players signed a petition to have their head coach Shaun Wines removed, but when the request was denied, many of the players quit the team.

Leaving the program without enough players to compete, the school was forced to forfeit the regular-season finale against Trinity Lutheran and it's sectional opener.

Sheridan hosts Indianapolis Tindley in its Sectional 44 opener next week.