BELPRE, Ohio — There was simply nothing left down the stretch.
The Southern football team dug itself an early 15-point hole and eventually climbed out, but host Belpre scored the final 14 points of regulation on Friday night to secure a 55-41 decision in a Week 5 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Washington County.
The visiting Tornadoes (4-1, 2-1 TVC Hocking) opened up a 7-0 edge early in the first quarter, but the Golden Eagles (3-2, 3-1) answered with 21 consecutive points.
Trey McNickle — who hauled in a 31-yard pass from Logan Drummer on Southern’s first TD — closed the gap down to 21-13 following a 65-yard first quarter run, but BHS countered with a score just before the stanza ended to secure a 28-13 cushion.
Drummer found Gage Shuler on a 20-yard pass that allowed SHS to close back to within seven, but the Orange and Black answered with another score to take a 35-21 lead late in the first half
McNickle ran for a score and caught another TD pass from Drummer to pull Southern to within 35-33 at the break, then Brody Dutton hauled in a 28-yard TD pass from Drummer during the third to give the Purple and Gold their final lead at 41-35.
Belpre responded with a score that knotted things up at 41-all headed into the finale, but Jesse Collins capped the outcome with a pair of rushing TDs in the fourth.
Collins scored on a nine-yard run barely a minute into the last period for a 48-41 advantage, then drove the proverbial nail in the coffin with a little over a minute left following an eight-yard run.
There were 769 yards of total offense and 43 first downs in the contest, but the biggest stat came in the turnover department — where SHS finished minus-3 on the night.
One of those miscues resulted in a Logan Adams fumble recovery that led to a 66-yard touchdown return, allowing the hosts to build a 21-7 cushion.
Belpre claimed a 25-18 edge in first downs, but was also flagged seven times for 83 yards. Southern, conversely, was penalized three times for 42 yards.
The Tornadoes churned out 437 yards of total offense with 262 of those coming through the air while also running 19 times for 175 yards.
McNickle led the guests with eight carries for 130 yards and two scores, followed by Drummer with 40 yards on eight totes. Drummer was also 14-of-25 passing for 262 yards and four touchdowns.
Weston Thorla paced SHS with six catches for 85 yards, while McNickle hauled in four passes for 104 yards and two scores. Shuler had three grabs for 45 yards and a TD as well.
Austin Colburn and Austin Arnold led the Southern defense with nine tackles apiece. Colburn also had the team’s lone sack.
The Golden Eagles produced 332 yards of total offense, with 282 of those coming on 56 rushing plays to go along with 50 yards through the air.
Collins led the ground attack with 159 yards and four scores on 31 carries, while Connor Baker was 4-of-5 passing for 50 yards and a score.
Walter Feick hauled in a single pass for 27 yards and a score, while Adams also had one grab for 23 yards.
The Tornadoes return to action Friday when they host South Gallia on Homecoming. Kickoff of the Week 6 TVC Hocking contest at Roger Lee Adams Memorial Field is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.