RACINE, Ohio — Turnovers can prove vital in the outcome of any game.
Such was the case on Friday evening as the Southern Tornadoes (1-1, 1-0 TVC Hocking) held off a rally from the visiting South Gallia Rebels (0-2, 0-1) to score their first win of the 2012 season.
A combined five lost fumbles and three interceptions proved to be the difference maker in the TVC Hocking contest at Roger Lee Adams Memorial Field.
The hosts took the opening kickoff, taking nine plays to put six points on the board. A drive of an opening pass play followed by 10 rushing plays, was capped off with a three yard touchdown run by Tyler Barton. The extra point kick failed, leaving Southern with a 6-0 lead less then five minutes into the game.
After a four and out by the Rebels, Southern took possession at the own 24 yard line. Three plays into the drive, quarterback Tristen Wolfe’s pass was intercepted by the Rebels Seth Carpenter.
South Gallia took advantage of the turnover, marching down field to tie the game. Ethan Spurlock scored on a six yard touchdown run. The two point conversion failed, leaving the score tied at six with 1:44 remaining in the first quarter.
The game would not remain tied for long, as Southern took six plays to put an additional six points on the board. Wolfe hit Trenton Deem for the 54 yard touchdown reception 12 seconds into the second quarter.
South Gallia appeared ready for its second scoring drive, but two consecutive penalties brought back what would have been first down runs. A fumble just past midfield was recovered by Southern’s Paul Ramthun to give Southern the ball.
Neither team would reach the end zone again in the first half, leaving the hosts with a 12-6 lead at the half. Each team moved the ball into the other team’s territory with turnovers late in the have ending drives for both teams.
Jacob White recovered a fumble for the Rebels, while Wolfe intercepted the Ethan Spurlock pass.
Back-to-back series to open the second have resulted in punts, before the Rebels started a long march down field. Eight rushing plays and two pass plays moved the ball from the South Gallia 28 yard line to the six yard line of the Tornadoes. A pass on fourth down from the six yard line by South Gallia starting quarterback Landon Hutchinson was intercepted by Southern’s Tyler O’Conner at the five yard line. O’Conner took the ball 95 yards for the Southern score.
Southern held the 18-6 lead after the failed two point conversion.
The Rebels would fumble on their next two possessions, with Southern’s Wolfe and O’Conner each recovering one fumble. Southern’s first possession of the fourth quarter resulted in a turnover on downs, giving the ball to South Gallia at their own 18 yard line.
Jacob White took the only play of the drive 82 yards, breaking a tackle, for the touchdown. A run by Hutchinson on the two point conversion cut the Southern lead to four points, 18-14.
Four plays later the Tornadoes extended the lead back to double digits with a 48 yard run by Barton.
Defensively, Wolfe, O’Conner and Ramthun each had a fumble recovery for the Tornadoes, with Wolfe and O’Conner each adding an interception.
For the South Gallia defense, Seth Carpenter had an interception, with White and Brandon Campbell each recovering a fumble.
Southern had 13 first downs in the game, to 11 for the Rebels.
The Tornadoes had 300 yards rushing on 46 carries and 61 yards passing. South Gallia had 239 yards rushing on 40 carries, with 99 yards passing.
South Gallia’s White led all ball carriers with 191 (21 carries) including an 82 yard touchdown run. Spurlock added 35 yards, and Hutchinson had 13 yards.
Barton led the Tornadoes with 173 yards on 19 carries. Ryan Billingsley had 74 yards, Deem had 60 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving, and Ramthun added seven yards.
Wolfe had two completions, both to Deem, for 61 yards in the game.
Hutchinson had five completions for 99 yards. Jared Northup (44 yards), Kane Hutchinson (17 yards), Jared Nolan (16 yards), Spurlock (16 yards) and Campbell (six yards) each had one catch for the Rebels.
The win was the first for the Tornadoes against South Gallia as a league opponent. Southern last won in the matchup in 2009 (28-6), with the last victory at home over the Rebels coming in 2004 (12-9).
Southern will travel to league opponent Belpre next week for its first road game of the season. South Gallia will return home to host TVC Hocking foe Trimble. Both games kickoff at 7:30 p.m.