RACINE, Ohio —The Tornadoes simply dug themselves into a hole too deep to escape.
The Southern football team trailed Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Waterford by 34 points just 21 seconds into the second half on Friday at Roger Lee Adams Memorial Field in Meigs County, and the Wildcats held on for the 42-12 victory.
Waterford (6-2, 5-1 TVC Hocking) broke the scoreless tie with a one-yard Zane Heiss touchdown run in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats’ 7-0 first quarter lead rapidly grew in the second stanza, starting with a 21-yard touchdown run by Joe Pantelidis. Heiss and Pantelidis each punched in one-yard touchdown runs later in the quarter, giving Waterford a 27-0 halftime advantage.
On just the second play from scrimmage in the second half, Waterford went up 34-0 with a 29-yard run from Holden Dailey.
Southern (5-3, 4-3) ended the shut out and cut its deficit to 34-6 later in the third quarter, with Gage Shuler scoring on a three-yard run.
The Wildcats pushed their lead to a game-high 36 points before the end of the period, with Heiss scoring on a 50-yard run. The Tornadoes ended the 42-12 setback on a high note, with Shuler recovering a Wildcat fumble and returning it 63 yards for the touchdown in the final period.
For the game, the Green and White claimed a 19-to-14 advantage in first downs, as well as a 378-to-217 edge in total offense, which included a 322-to-151 margin in rushing yards. WHS was penalized five times for 73 yards, while Southern was sent back nine times for 87.
Shuler — who was 4-of-16 passing for 63 yards — carried the ball five times for 16 yards and a touchdown, while catching one pass for three yards.
McNickle led the Purple and Gold on the ground with 21 carries for 129 yards, while Josh Stansberry added six yards on four totes.
Chase Bailey caught two passes for 15 yards in the setback, Gage Barrett added one 39-yard reception, Will Wickline came up with a nine-yard grab, while Andy Doczi completed 1-of-3 pass attempts for three yards.
The Wildcats used 13 ball carriers in the contest, led by Zane Heiss, who had 140 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries, while completing 4-of-6 passes for 56 yards. Holden Dailey had 83 total yards and one touchdown for WHS, combining 13 carries with a team-best two receptions.
Next, Southern will visit league-leading Trimble on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.