WATERFORD, Ohio — For nearly 20 minutes the Tornadoes proved they could play with league-leading Waterford, but then the Wildcats proved why they’re at the top of the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division.
Nineteen minutes into Friday night’s TVC Hocking showdown in Washington County, the Waterford and Southern football teams were tied at seven. However, the host Wildcats scored 30 unanswered points and captured the 37-7 win to remain perfect within the nine-team league.
After forcing Southern (6-2, 4-2 TVC Hocking) into a three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, Waterford (7-1, 6-0) — which can clinch a share of its first league title since 2007 with a victory over winless Federal Hocking next Friday — began its first drive at the SHS 17.
The Wildcats scored on their first drive, as Tyler McCutcheon found paydirt on a six-yard run. Cody Harris made the point-after kick and WHS led 7-0 with 9:42 left in the first period.
The Tornado offense was held scoreless in the opening stanza, but had begun driving by the end of the quarter. At the 10:21 mark of the second quarter, Colten Holbrook punched into the endzone on a three-yard run. Andrew Evans kicked home the extra-point, capping off the 10-play, 47 yard drive and tying the game at seven.
Unfortunately from the Purple and Gold, Waterford answered with a 15-play, 65-yard scoring drive that took 5:59 off of the clock. The drive was capped off by a 10-yard TD pass from Isaac Huffman to Braden Bellville and a two-point conversion run by McCutcheon. The Wildcats held SHS off the board for the final 4:22 of the half and went into the locker room leading 15-7.
The SHS defense held Waterford out of the endzone for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Wildcats scored twice over the next two minutes. First, Bellville caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Huffman with 1:51 left in the third, then with the third quarter clock expired, McCutcheon broke a 53-yard touchdown run. Harris made both of his third period extra-point tries and the Wildcats led 29-7 with one quarter remaining.
The Purple and Gold turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive, giving the hosts possession at the WHS 14. On the first play of Waterford’s drive, Bellville broke an 86-yard touchdown run that — with a two-point run Huffman — capped off the 37-7 Wildcats victory.
The Wildcats outgained SHS 413-to-207 in total offense, including 378-to-84 on the ground. Both teams were penalized nine times, Southern for 62 yards and Waterford for 100. SHS committed the game’s lone turnover, losing one of its four fumbles.
SHS senior quarterback Blake Johnson completed 7-of-16 passes for 125 yards, with Dylan Smith hauling in six passes for 107 and Crenson Rogers catching one 18-yard pass.
Riley Roush led the Tornadoes on the ground with 76 yards on 17 tries, followed by Holbrook with 25 yards and one TD on four carries.
Huffman — who ran six times for 23 yards — completed 5-of-11 passes for 35 yards and two scores. McCutcheon led the hosts on the ground with 214 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, while Bellville — who led WHS with 36 yards and one touchdown on four receptions — added 141 yards and one TD on 14 rushes.
After a 6-0 start, the Tornadoes have dropped back-to-back games and will try to rebound next week, when they host 3-5 South Gallia.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.