RACINE, Ohio — What was forecast as a significant high school football contest in the Hocking Division of the Tri-Valley Conference as well as possessing important postseason concerns for both teams turned out to be just as projected Friday evening before a standing room only crowd at Roger Adams Memorial Stadium.
Once-beaten Wahama and unbeaten Southern engaged in a 48-minute struggle with the visiting White Falcons scoring 28 unanswered points after falling behind by an early 7-0 margin to hand a determined Tornado eleven its first loss of the year by a 28-14 score.
The decisive difference in the classic battle was the White Falcons ability to acquire the big play gains and eventually turn those achievements into points. Wahama received two long range pass receptions, a 26-yard run and a fourth down fake punt and managed to turn those plays into touchdowns to come away with the hard fought win.
WHS, ranked 14th in the latest WVSSAC Class A state ratings, captured its fourth consecutive victory on the season to improve to 5-1 overall and 4-1 inside conference competition.
Coach Kyle Wickline’s Southern eleven entered the league affair unbeaten on the year and with an enormous amount of confidence in the crucial gridiron contest and it showed quickly, especially after the Tornadoes gained the early lead following an early Falcon turnover.
Southern entered the affair ranked 11th in Division VII of the latest Ohio rankings and was rated fourth in Region 25. Although the loss concluded the Tornadoes unbeaten string at five straight, the Meigs County team’s postseason aspirations received but a slight delay. Southern fell to 5-1 overall on the 2013 football season while dropping to 3-1 inside the Hocking Division of the TVC following the loss.
Southern drew first blood early in the opening quarter when the Tornadoes recovered a Wahama fumble at its own three yard line. It took the Tornadoes only one play to prove the Falcon turnover to be a costly one as senior Tyler Barton opened the nights scoring with a three yard plunge just 3:30 into the contest. Trenton Deem booted the point after and to the delight of the Southern fans in attendance the Meigs County team enjoyed an early 7-0 edge.
Wahama wasted little time in answering their cross-river foes first score by taking the ensuing kickoff and marching 68 yards in only five plays. A 47-yard Hunter Bradley to Brandon Stewart pass was the huge play of the series with Colton Neal capping off the drive with a six yard run during the first of his four touchdowns on the night. The point after kick was blocked and Southern clung to a 7-6 advantage with 6:57 remaining in the opening period.
Another long pass, this one a 32 yard halfback toss from Kane Roush to Wyatt Zuspan, set up the Bend Area team s go-ahead touchdown with Neal finishing off the short three play, 44 yard series with a three yard run. Again WHS misfired on its point after attempt and with 5:10 left in the first quarter led by a 12-7 score.
Southern embarked on a long drive following the ensuing kickoff, its second extended series of the night, but on both occasions the Tornadoes came away empty-handed which ultimately proved to have a huge bearing in the contests final outcome.
After moving from its own 20 to the Wahama 20 in 12 plays Southern was forced to turn the ball over on downs and the White Falcons made the most of the Tornadoes inability to put the football into the end zone as Wahama drove 80 yards in 11 plays for a score.
A fake punt and 26 yard run by Kane Roush, his longest of the evening was the big play of the series with Neal going the final four yards for the score. Roush hauled in a pass from Bradley for the two-point conversion to give the Mason County team a 20-7 edge at the half.
Southern embarked on another long drive on its first offensive possession of the second half. The host team started on its own 15 and behind the running of Barton moved deep into Wahama territory. Once again the drive stalled at the Falcon 15 and Southern was forced to come away empty-handed once again.
Wahama added to its lead midway through the final quarter after Brent Larck recovered a Tornadoe fumble at the WHS 33. A steady diet of Neal through the middle and a 20 yard scamper by Bradley set up Neal’s fourth score of the day with a two yard burst. Zuspan grabbed the point after aerial from Bradley to make it a 28-7 affair with 6:21 left in the game.
Southern added its final points of the outing during its final possession by riding the passing arm of Tristen Wolfe to go 78 yards in 11 plays. Wolfe connected on five completions during the series for 58 yards before going the final five yards on the ground himself to reach the end zone. Deem again added the point after o make the final tally 28-14.
Colton Neal led all ground gainers in the contest with 94 yards in 17 carries in addition to owning a pass reception for 12 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Kane Roush ran for 88 yards in 13 tries in addition to completing one pass for 32 yards. Hunter Bradley ran for 43 yards in 12 attempts while completing two of four passes for 59 yards. Bradley also tossed two successful PAT’s to Roush and Wyatt Zuspan. Brandon Stewart caught one pass for 47 yards while Zuspan had one reception for 32 yards.
Tyler Barton led Southern with 82 yards in 17 carries with Wolfe grounding out 37 yards in six tires and Billingsley gaining 18 yards in six carries. Wolfe completed seven of 20 aerials for 66 yards with one of his passes being picked off. Hunter Johnson caught four passes for 24 yards while Tom Ramthun had one catch for 23 yards, Colten Walters one for 10 yards and Dennis Teaford one for nine yards.
Both teams jump back into the TVC, Hocking Division picture next week with Wahama hosting Federal Hocking in a homecoming tilt while Southern travels to Miller.