MERCERVILLE, Ohio — The basketball team is known as the Runnin’ Rebels. Apparently the South Gallia football team wants a piece of that moniker too.
The Rebels churned out 595 rushing yards and 701 yards of total offense Friday night while rolling to a 49-28 victory over visiting Manchester in a Week 4 non-conference contest at Rebel Field in Gallia County.
SGHS (2-2) trailed 8-6 midway through the first quarter, but the hosts reeled off 29 consecutive points and never looked back en route to a 35-14 halftime advantage. The Red and Gold produced 19 first downs and 379 rushing yards in the first half, which helped the Rebels claim a sizable 465-90 edge in total yards at the break.
The Greyhounds (1-3) — who produced only 292 yards of total offense in the setback — never came closer than three possessions the rest of the way. The guests were also minus-1 in turnover differential.
South Gallia finished the night with an astounding average of 9.9 yards per carry on the ground, which led to three backs ending the game with over 100 yards rushing apiece. MHS, conversely, mustered only 89 rushing yards on 30 attempts overall.
Afterwards SGHS coach Jason Peck was pretty pleased to see his guys run the ball so efficiently, and he noted that all of that starts up front with the big boys.
“We did a fine job of executing the game plan on offense,” Peck said. “We’ve relied a lot on the pass in the first few weeks, but I’m a power guy — I love running the football. It was nice to see that offensive line clicking like it was, which allowed our guys to make some real noise.
“Manchester isn’t a bad football team, so I’m proud of the way our defense stepped up and kept them in check. We were also able to get a lot of players in tonight, so this was just a good night for our guys all the way around.”
Good fortunes were with the Rebels early on, particularly on the first drive of the game. After going 62 yards in eight plays, SGHS found itself facing a fourth-and-goal at its own eight.
The hosts attempted a 25-yard field goal that was blocked behind the line of scrimmage, but the ball never crossed the eight after falling to the ground. As Manchester players went toward the sideline, Isaiah Geiger picked up the live ball and rumbled eight yards to the end zone — giving SGHS a 6-0 advantage with 8:12 remaining in the opening period.
The Greyhounds responded with a 71-yard kickoff return by Bryan Young, then Jordan Freeman capped a four-play, 11-yard scoring drive on a four-yard scamper — giving MHS its only lead of the night at 8-6 with 6:48 left in the first.
The Rebels quickly answered with a three-play, 77-yard scoring drive that ended at the 5:27 mark following a 66-yard run by Geiger — giving the hosts a permanent lead of 14-8.
Manchester punted on its ensuing drive, then Johnny Sheets reeled off a 50-yard run to paydirt on the Rebels’ first play of the drive — allowing SGHS to claim a 20-8 cushion with 11:37 remaining in the half.
Landon Hutchinson capped a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive with a one-yard run at the 5:13 mark, giving the Red and Gold a 28-8 edge. Sheets capped the Rebels’ first half scoring with a 15-yard TD run with 2:35 remaining, allowing the hosts to claim their largest lead of the first half at 35-8.
MHS, however, managed to whittle that deficit down before halftime after Freeman connected with Sean Frost on a 49-yard TD pass with 1:06 left — making it a 35-14 contest at the break.
Owen Bevan scored on a five-yard run three minutes into the third quarter to give SGHS a 41-14 edge, but Frost hauled in another 49-yard TD catch from Freeman at the 7:23 mark to make it a 41-20 contest.
Geiger added his third rushing TD of the night with a 13-yarder with 26 seconds left in the third canto, allowing the hosts to take a 49-20 lead — their largest of the night.
Frost hauled in his third TD pass from Freeman with 1:39 left in regulation — this time for 68 yards — to complete the scoring at 49-28.
South Gallia scored touchdowns on five of its first six drives and seven of its first 10 drives overall. The hosts also claimed a whopping 28-12 advantage in first downs in the triumph.
SGHS was flagged 11 times for 103 yards, while the guests were penalized six times for 50 yards. Geiger and Wyatt Rapp also had a fumble recovery apiece for the hosts.
Geiger led the Rebels’ ground attack with 225 yards on 19 carries, followed by Landon Hutchinson with 167 yards on 21 totes. Sheets also had 125 rushing yards on seven attempts.
Landon Hutchinson was 7-of-18 passing for 106 yards, while Kane Hutchinson led the wideouts with 53 receiving yards on three catches. Geiger also hauled in three passes for 43 yards.
Freeman led the guests with 60 rushing yards on 16 attempts and was also 7-of-20 passing for 203 yards. Frost led the Manchester receivers with three grabs for 166 yards and three scores.
The Rebels return to TVC Hocking action next Friday when they host Eastern in a Week 5 contest at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.