STEWART, Ohio — The Rebels saved their best for last.
The South Gallia football team scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter while also picking up its first win of the 2016 campaign Friday night following a 42-24 decision over host Federal Hocking in a Week 2 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Athens County.
The visiting Rebels (1-1, 1-0 TVC Hocking) never led in the first half and were facing a 24-22 deficit headed into the final stanza, but the Red and Gold came up with a pair of David Kuhn touchdown runs and a pivotal defensive score down the stretch — which allowed SGHS to sneak away with the league-opening triumph.
The Lancers (0-2, 0-1) started the scoring with 9:02 left in the opening period as Walker Church gave the hosts a 6-0 edge on a 20-yard run with 9:02 remaining.
A.J. Woodall retaliated with a two-yard scoring scamper at the 4:07 mark, which allowed the Rebels to knot things up at six after one period of play.
The score remained that way until 2:12 remained in the half as Fed Hock secured a 12-6 lead following a Church TD run from one yard out. The Maroon and Gold managed to take that six-point cushion into halftime with them.
The Lancers struck first in the second half as Colten Roark hauled in a 65-yard pass from Dillon Wilfong at the 9:52 mark, which made it an 18-6 contest.
Johnny Sheets, however, answered with a 23-yard scoring run and a successful two-point run at the 5:17 mark, making it an 18-14 deficit.
Sheets followed with a 63-yard run at the 1:53 mark of the third to give SGHS its first lead of the night, and Colten Coughenour added a successful two-point run to give the guests a 22-18 edge.
On the ensuing kickoff, Deakin Hatfield returned the ball 75 yards to paydirt — which allowed Federal Hocking to reclaim the lead at 24-22 with 1:40 remaining.
SGHS followed with a winning drive that was capped on a 14-yard run by Kuhn at the 11:30 mark. Sheets converted a two-point run that allowed the guests to reclaim the advantage at 30-24.
The Rebels put the proverbial nail in the coffin with 7:57 left in regulation as Kuhn capped a four-play, 54-yard scoring drive with a 29-yard TD run — allowing the Red and Gold some breathing room with a 36-24 edge.
Josh Henry capped the comeback with a one-yard interception return at the 2:38 mark, wrapping up the 18-point triumph.
The Rebels outgained FHHS by a 467-232 overall margin in total yards, with all of the South Gallia yardage coming on 51 rushing attempts. The Lancers mustered only 43 rushing yards on 34 carries and also amassed 189 yards through the air.
SGHS claimed a 17-10 edge in first downs and also finished plus-1 in turnover differential. Fed Hock was flagged six times for 40 yards, while the guests were penalized seven times for 76 yards.
Sheets finished the night with an impressive 336 rushing yards on 27 carries, followed by Kuhn with 70 rushing yards on eight totes. Henry also added 67 yards on the ground on 10 tries for South Gallia. Coughenour was also 0-of-3 passing with an interception for the guests.
Church paced Fed Hock with 54 rushing yards on 15 carries, while Wilfong finished the night 8-of-13 passing for 189 yards and two interceptions.
Roark led the Lancer wideouts with three catches for 131 yards, followed by Gavin Conkle with 33 yards on two grabs.
South Gallia will make its 2016 home debut next Friday when the Rebels welcome Trimble to town for a TVC Hocking matchup at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.