PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — After a quarter to knock the rust off, the Tornadoes kicked up quite a storm.
The Southern football was locked in a scoreless tie 12 minutes into its season-opener on Friday in Scioto County, but the Purple and Gold found the end zone five times after that and rolled to a 34-6 victory over non-conference host Portsmouth Notre Dame.
Southern (1-0) — winning its season-opener for the seventh straight season — went up 8-0 in the second quarter as Trey McNickle punched in from one-yard out and the Tornadoes converted the two-point try.
McNickle found the end zone again in with 6:03 left in the third quarter, this time from 22 yards out. The two-point try was stuffed, however, keeping Southern’s lead at 14-0.
Notre Dame was back to within eight points after a three-yard Jake McGuire touchdown run on the following drive, but McNickle scored on a 10-yard in the fourth quarter to make Southern’s lead 20-6.
McNickle was in the end zone for a fourth time later in the period, this time on a 42-yard pass from Gage Shuler. The Tornadoes converted the two-point try and led 28-6.
The guests put a cherry on top of the season-opening win with a 100-yard interception return by Cole Steele as time expired.
In the 34-6 triumph, Southern held a 335-to-212 advantage in total offense, with all of the Titans’ yardage coming on the ground. NDHS claimed a 27-to-17 edge in first downs, but lost the turnover battle by a 2-1 count. The Purple and Gold were penalized six time for 27 yards, while the hosts were sent back four times for 25 yards.
McNickle led the Tornado offense, carrying the ball 22 times for a total of 151 yards and three touchdowns, to go with one 42-yard touchdown grab. Shuler — who was 8-of-16 passing for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception — carried the ball 11 times for a total of 43 yards.
Gage Barrett carried the ball once for nine yards, and caught a game-best five passes for 82 yards. Chase Bailey and Will Wickline caught a pass apiece in the win, gaining 12 and six yards respectively.
Logan Emnett paced Notre Dame with 91 yards on 14 carries, while Jake McGuire ended with 67 yards and a touchdown on seven tries. Beau Hobbs ran nine times for 57 yards, Austin Vaughters ended with 19 yards on four carries, Dylan Seison claimed three yards on six tries, while Tanner Richards had a one-yard run.
Southern will look for its third straight 2-0 start to a season when the Tornadoes visit Federal Hocking in Week 2.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.