STEWART, Ohio — The Tornadoes took control in all-3 phases of the game.
After returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, the Southern football team scored twice on offense and twice on defense on Friday night in Athens County, as the Purple and Gold rolled to a 31-0 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Federal Hocking.
Southern (2-0, 1-0 TVC Hocking) — starting 2-0 for the fourth year in a row — was up 6-0 on the first play of the contest, as Trey McNickle returned the opening kickoff 75 yards for the touchdown.
McNickle gave the Tornadoes a 12-0 lead later in the opening period, breaking a 45-yard run for the touchdown.
Still in the first quarter, SHS senior Gage Shuler picked off a Lancer pass and returned it 25 yards for the touchdown, giving the guests an 18-0 lead.
McNickle scored another rushing touchdown in the second quarter, this time from the Lancer 34-yard line. After failing on two-point conversion tries on all-3 of their first quarter touchdowns, the Tornadoes made 1-of-2 extra-point kicks in the second period.
Southern went ahead 31-0 before the half, as Shuler had a second pick-6, this time from 29 yards out.
With the clock running and the defense standing tall, the Tornadoes didn’t need to add on in the second half and claimed the 31-0 victory.
Southern had a 277-to-103 advantage in total offense for the game, including 231-to-66 on the ground. Each team had a pair of turnovers in the contest, and SHS earned a 17-to-11 edge in first downs. The guests were flagged nine times for 74 yards.
McNickle finished with 192 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, to go with his 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a two-yard reception.
Shuler — who carried the ball three times for a net gain of 11 yards — was 5-of-9 passing for 46 yards in the win. Jonah Diddle combined four carries for 42 yards with one catch for 19, Andy Doczi ran twice for seven yards, Will Wickline caught two passes for 28 yards, while Colton Walker had one grab for 12 yards.
Leading the Lancers, Donnie McCain was 4-of-9 passing for 47 yards, while carrying the ball 10 times for 37. Jacob Flynn had a game-best three receptions for 38 yards in the setback.
This marks the Tornadoes first shut out win since Week 3 of last season. Southern has now started league-play on the right foot for five straight seasons.
Next for the Purple and Gold, their home-opener against 1-1 Wahama. That game will be played on Friday in Racine.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.