WATERFORD - A fourth-quarter goal-line stand proved to be the key as the Southern Tornadoes went on to shut out the Waterford Wildcats 21-0 Friday night in a Tri Valley Conference Hocking Division clash at Waterford High School.
Trailing by 14 with just under eight minutes to play, the Wildcats faced a first-and-goal at Southern's three-yard line with a chance to climb right back into the game but were stymied by the tough Tornado defense.
Runs by Devon Patterson, Hunter Munjas, and Jacob Stewart moved the ball to within a yard of the goal, but Patterson's fourth down pass attempt was broken up nicely by Southern's Tyler Barton.
"It was just a little disappointing that we didn't execute the way we should tonight," said Waterford head coach Tom Tucker.
"We just made too many mistakes."
Southern took the opening kick off and drove 64 yards for their first score of the game, a 9-yard run by Barton to take a 7-0 lead.
Southern 21 Waterford 0
Southern 7 7 0 7 - 21
Waterford 0 0 0 0 - 0
S: Tyler Barton 9 yd. run (Trenton Deem kick) 7:20
S: Barton 14 yd. run (Deem kick) 1:38
S: Tyler O'Conner 60 yd. interception return (Deem kick) 2:40
Southern: First downs: 11, Rushes-yds: 39-128, Passing yds: 60, Total yds: 188, Penalties-yds: 7-72, Punts-avg: 5-25.8, Fumbles-lost: 2-2, Turnovers: 2.
Waterford: First downs: 7, Rushes-yds: 34-71, Passing yds: 56, Total yds: 127, Penalties-yds: 7-60, Punts-avg: 4-25.5, Fumbles-lost: 6-2, Turnovers: 4.
Southern: Rushing: Barton: 18-87, 2TD, Paul Ramthun: 4-17, Jack Lemly: 1-9, Deem: 6-8, Tristen Wolfe: 8-6. Passing: Wolfe: 4-6-0-60, Receiving: Deem: 3-44, Ramthun: 1-16.
Waterford: Rushing: Jacob Stewart: 6-44, Hunter Munjas: 18-23, Devon Patterson: 9-10, Austin Lang: 1-4. Passing: Patterson: 5-10-0-56- 2INT, Receiving: Mitchell Ginther: 2-37, Wyatt Porter: 1-14, Stewart: 2-5.
Next Game: Waterford (2-6) at South Gallia. Southern (3-5) home vs. Trimble
Barton accounted for 54 of those opening drive yards for Southern.
One week removed from scoring 35 points in the final quarter in a 41-18 victory over Green, the Wildcats could muster very little offense in the first half against Southern.
Waterford had negative yardage in the first half and chalked up their lone first down of the half with just 50 seconds to play in the half on a nine-yard run by Stewart.
Barton would strike again for Southern when after a 24-yard punt return by Tyler O'Conner and Wildcat penalty placed the ball deep in Waterford territory, the junior ran 14 yards for his second touchdown of the half on the very next play for a 14-0 Tornado lead.
While the Waterford offense struggled for most of the game, the 'Cat defense buckled down in the second half as they allowed Southern just 22 second half yards and a single first down.
"We told them (defense) at halftime that we needed to come out and play with a lot more emotion," said Tucker. "We played a lot better defensively in the second half."
Waterford put together it's best drive of the night just before the fateful goal line stand behind Patterson, who was making his second start at quarterback in place of the injured Brian Moore.
Patterson connected on a 28- yard pass with wide receiver Mitchell Ginther and ran a quarterback keeper some 17 yards to set up the first and goal at the Tornado three- yard line.
The Wildcats would get one more shot late in the fourth quarter after forcing Southern to punt from it's own 10-yard line, but Patterson's pass attempt was picked off by O'Conner, who sprinted 60-yards for his third interception return for a touchdown of the season.
Tucker was not at all pleased with his team's ability to take care of the ball as the Wildcats turned the ball over four times in the game.
"The kids played hard, we just had way too many mistakes tonight," said the Wildcat head coach. "You just can't turn the ball over that many times."
Barton rushed for a game high 87 yards on 18 carries, while quarterback Tristen Wolfe completed 4-of-6 passes for 60 yards for the Tornadoes.
Stewart led the green and white offense with 44 yards rushing on just six carries, while Patterson finished with five completions in ten attempts for 56 yards on the night.
Southern improved to 3-5 on the season while the Wildcats fell to 2-6.
"We've just got to keep working, we've got two more weeks left to go," said Tucker. "They are two games that we can win, we just need to play a little better than we have been playing."
Next up for the 'Cats is a trip to Crown City to take on South Gallia in another conference match up.