MERCERVILLE, Ohio — After all, birds are most comfortable in the air.
The Wahama football team produced three passing touchdowns in the middle quarters and ultimately held on Friday night for a hard-fought 18-12 victory over host South Gallia in a Week 8 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
The White Falcons (3-5, 3-4 TVC Hocking) rallied back from 6-0 first quarter deficit by scoring on the opening play of the second canto to tie things up, then produced passing scores on their first two offensive possessions of the second half — giving the guests an 18-6 cushion headed into the finale.
The Rebels (1-7, 1-6) closed to within a possession with 9:10 left in regulation as Kyle Northup produced his second rushing score with a 3-yard run, allowing the Red and Gold to close back to within six points.
SGHS suffered a turnover on downs with its next possession, but Northup forced and recovered a fumble in the end zone on Wahama’s ensuing drive — giving the Rebels one last shot at tying things up.
The hosts, however, never got beyond their own 35-yard line, then endured a 9-yard loss on a sack before fumbling the ball away on a fourth-down desperation play. Brayden Davenport eventually recovered the fumble for WHS as time expired.
The Red and White snapped a 2-game losing skid while also improving to 16-3 all-time against the Rebels, who dropped their fifth straight decision this fall. The road team has also won this head-to-head matchup the last four seasons.
Both teams traded punts at the start of the game, but Wahama ultimately ran out of downs after a failed fourth down attempt at the SGHS 11.
The Rebels countered with an 8-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard Northup scamper for a 6-0 contest with 2:06 remaining in the first.
WHS answered with a 7-play, 65-yard drive that knotted things up at 6-all as Hunter Board hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Abram Pauley six seconds into the second frame.
The Rebels retaliated by stringing together a 7-play drive that resulted in a first-and-goal situation at the nine, but Pauley stripped the ball away and recovered it at the seven, giving Wahama possession with 8:34 left in the half.
Both teams combined for three punts over the next three drives, giving South Gallia the ball at the WHS 43 with 2:40 remaining.
The Rebels were facing a first-and-goal at the four with roughly 10 seconds left until halftime, but the hosts were unsuccessful on two different attempts — sending both teams into the locker room tied at six.
South Gallia was forced to punt on its first two drives of the second half, and the White Falcons followed with a pair of scoring drives on each of those possession changes.
Wahama covered 60 yards in five plays and took a permanent lead when Gavin Stiltner hauled in a 7-yard pass from Brayden Davenport with 5:55 left in the third for a 12-6 contest.
The White Falcons then marched 85 yards in 10 plays as Board capped the drive with a 10-yard TD catch from Davenport, making it a 12-point contest with 43.4 seconds remaining in the third period.
The guests claimed a 19-16 advantage in first downs and ended the game plus-1 in turnover differential. Wahama outgained the Rebels by a slim 322-307 overall margin in total yards, but the hosts produced all but four of their yards on the ground.
WHS, on the other hand, churned out 155 rushing yards to go along with 167 passing yards — including a perfect 9-for-9 effort from Davenport in the second half. The White Falcons also played the second half without Pauley as the senior was injured on a play late in the first half.
Trevor Hunt led Wahama with 56 rushing yards on 10 attempts, followed by Davenport with 51 yards on 15 totes. Davenport also completed 9-of-12 passes for 127 yards and two scores.
Pauley went 2-of-4 passing for 40 yards and a score. The senior also ran 10 times for 44 yards.
Board led the Wahma wideouts with 88 yards on four catches, followed by Hunt with four grabs for 64 yards.
Northup put in a night’s worth of work after carrying the ball 47 times for 296 yards and a pair of scores. Northup was also 0-for-4 passing and caught one pass for four yards.
Tristan Saber went 1-of-6 passing for four yards, while Justin Butler ran the ball six times for 21 yards.
South Gallia completed its regular season home schedule and returns to action Friday when it travels to Miller for its TVC Hocking finale at 7:30 p.m.
Wahama has a bye next week and returns to action Friday, Nov. 1 as its hosts Trimble in its final TVC Hocking contest. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.