MERCERVILLE, Ohio — The Rebels were keeping pace … until they shot themselves in the foot.
The South Gallia football team committed three first half turnovers that resulted in 21 points Friday night following a 42-0 setback to visiting Trimble in a Week 3 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup in Gallia County.
The host Rebels (1-2, 1-1 TVC Hocking) put together an 11-play drive on the opening possession of the game, but the Tomcats (2-1, 2-0) recovered a fumble at the SGHS 49 midway through the first period.
Seven plays and 49 yards later, THS claimed a permanent lead as Dominic Pickett capped the drive with an eight-yard run at the 1:58 mark for a 7-0 edge.
The Rebels countered with an eight-play drive that went early into the second canto, but Max Hooper picked off a fourth-and-eight pass and returned it 62 yards to paydirt — making it a 14-0 contest with 9:42 remaining in the half.
Both teams traded defensive stops on the ensuing possessions, then the hosts reeled off another eight-play drive that once again ended in heartbreak as Trimble recovered a fumble at its own 46 with just 35 seconds left in the half.
The Tomcats dug into their bag of tricks on the ensuing play as Jacob Hardy hauled in a 54-yard halfback pass from Hooper, making it a 21-0 contest with 24.6 seconds left until halftime.
THS opened the second half with a 71-yard kickoff return by Kameron Curry to the SGHS 14, then Hardy capped a three-play, 14-yard scoring drive with a seven-yard TD pass from Gary Brooks — making it a 28-0 contest with 10:16 left in the third.
SGHS was forced to punt on its next three possessions, while the Tomcats produced a pair of quick-strike scores during the third to secure a 42-0 cushion entering the finale.
Hardy hauled in a 76-yard pass from Brooks with 3:51 remaining for a 35-0 lead, then Curry produced a 55-yard TD scamper with nine seconds left to wrap up the scoring.
Trimble — which has now won 33 consecutive TVC Hocking gridiron contests — outgained the hosts by a 320-149 overall margin in total yards, including a 150-1 advantage through the air. The guests also finished the night plus-3 in turnover differential.
Following the game, seventh-year SGHS coach Jason Peck noted that he was pleased with a handful of things that his team was able to do over the course of the night. The problem he had, however, was the self-inflicted mistakes that came back to haunt his Rebels.
“We did some good things tonight, but we can’t be content with mental victories,” Peck said. “We have a young roster and we showed some real physicality tonight, which is a sign that we are improving. I really think we did some growing, but we have to be more consistent for four quarters and we can’t afford to turn the ball over like we did tonight.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but we do feel like we are taking steps in to get us headed in the right direction.”
The Rebels churned out 148 rushing yards on 44 attempts and also earned nine first downs while being penalized three times for 25 yards.
Johnny Sheets paced the SGHS ground attack with 86 yards on 24 carries, followed by David Kuhn with 28 yards on five totes. A.J. Woodall also had 20 yards on seven tries.
Colten Coughenour completed 1-of-2 passes for a single yard while throwing an interception. Josh Henry was also intercepted on his only pass of the game. Sheets also hauled in one pass for a single yard.
Trimble produced 170 rushing yards on 25 attempts, had 10 first downs and was flagged six times for 50 yards.
Curry led the Tomcat rushing attack with 89 yards on 11 carries, followed by Pickett with 45 yards on four attempts.
Brooks completed all four of his passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Hooper also completed his only pass, a 54-yard score. Hardy hauled in all five THS receptions for 150 yards.
Kyle Northup came up with a fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter for South Gallia. Pickett recovered a fumble for THS, while Hooper, Matthew Rollins and Lavi McClellan each picked off a SGHS pass.
South Gallia returns to action Friday when it travels to Manchester for a Week 4 non-conference matchup at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.