RACINE, Ohio — The final outcome may not have indicated it, but Southern was running up the score.
The Tornadoes rushed for 245 yards and scored three times on the ground, allowing the hosts to earn their first 3-0 start since the turn of the millennium Friday night following a 19-0 victory over Belpre in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup at Roger Lee Adams Memorial Field in Meigs County.
The Tornadoes (3-0, 2-0 TVC Hocking) scored three times in their first four possessions, allowing the hosts to secure a comfortable 19-0 cushion with seven minutes left in the opening half. All three touchdown scores came courtesy of senior Tyler Barton, who reached paydirt on runs of two, four and two yards, respectively.
The Golden Eagles (1-2, 0-1) didn’t fare nearly as well during that same span, as the guests punted on each of their first three series and eventually picked up their first first down of the game with barely over six minutes left until halftime.
An injury late in the third quarter made for a somber mood the rest of the night, as BHS lineman Nathan Mason was carted off the field and transported to a helicopter for medical attention at a hospital. The status of that injury was unknown at press time.
Both teams battled through the final 12 minutes unscathed, allowing SHS to remain unbeaten on the season following its 2013 home opener.
The Tornadoes held a sizable 195-14 advantage in total offensive yards at the break and finished the night with 305-77 overall edge, which included a 245-18 lead in the final rushing stats. SHS also claimed a 15-7 edge in total first downs and recorded five sacks in the triumph.
For fourth-year SHS coach Kyle Wickline, this victory may be as satisfying as any that he has been a part of on the sidelines. He’s also hoping that this current trend will continue as the season progresses.
“These kids have put a lot of time and effort into this, and we took some losses early on when these kids were younger,” Wickline said. “Now, we are putting together wins … and we are really enjoying what is going here now. This is something that we’ve been waiting a long time for.
“We can be proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, but we still have seven more weeks of football to play. We still have a lot of work to put in between now and then.”
Southern took the opening kickoff and marched 78 yards in nine plays, capped by a two-yard scoring run by Barton with 7:19 remaining for an early 6-0 cushion.
Belpre went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and Tristen Wolfe blocked the BHS punt attempt — which Paul Ramthun recovered and returned to the Golden Eagle four. Barton followed with a four-yard scoring run on the next play, giving the Tornadoes a 13-0 edge with five minutes left in the first period.
The hosts put their final scoring drive together with their opening possession of the second quarter, as Southern marched 52 yards in seven plays to take a three-possession lead. Barton plunged in from two yards out with 7:04 left until halftime, making it a 19-0 advantage.
Barton finished the night with 139 rushing yards on 25 carries, with 97 of those yards coming on 15 first half totes. Tristen Wolfe was next with 42 yards on 10 attempts, followed by Hunter Johnson with 27 yards on four rushes.
Wolfe finished the night just 3-of-9 passing for 50 yards, which included one interception. Johnson hauled in two passes for 36 yards, while Colten Walters caught one pass for 14 yards.
Dejon Bedgood — who did not play in the first half — led Belpre with 45 rushing yards on seven carries, followed by Dakota McDaniel with four yards on five attempts.
Tavian Miller was 6-of-11 passing for 59 yards, which included one interception made by Zac Beegle. Miller also finished the evening with nine rushes for negative 31 yards. D.J. Leftwich hauled in two passes for 17 yards, while Bedgood had one grab for 22 yards.
Casey Pickens had two sacks for the Tornadoes, while Brandon Grueser, Theron Johnson and Ramthun each recorded one sack in the triumph. Trenton Deem also recovered a fumble for the hosts.
The one downside to Southern’s night came in penalties, as the Purple and Gold were flagged 11 times for 95 yards. Belpre, conversely, was penalized just five times for 44 yards. Bedgood also recovered a fumble and picked off a pass for the Golden Eagles’ defense.
The Tornadoes — winners of four straight and six of seven overall — will look to keep things rolling along next Friday when they travel to Stewart for a Week 4 TVC Hocking matchup at Federal Hocking. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.