EASTPOINT — South Walton was the better of a pair of Seahawks Friday night, as it snapped a season-long losing streak with a convincing 37-10 win over Franklin County.
Sophomore quarterback Johnathan Ortner completed 19 of 26 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns, handing Phil Tisa his first win after nine losses in his inaugural season as head coach.
“Those were a hard 10 weeks,” Tisa said. “It was a rough schedule, seven of the 10 teams on our schedule are in the playoffs, but we stayed together and got better each week. During those nine losses I never lost those kids wanting to play for me and that lets me sleep at night.”
The visiting Seahawks spotted Franklin County a field goal early on when senior Zach Howze nailed a 29-yarder with 5:16 left in the first quarter.
South Walton then added 16 unanswered points before halftime, including successfully completing the team’s first field-goal attempt of the year with no time left on the clock. Freshman Joe Ledo-Massey split the uprights from 27 yards.
“We’ve been pretty well behind all year,” said Tisa. “We haven’t had a lot of opportunity for field goals.”
With 2:15 left in the first quarter, Ortner threw a 15-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Drew Pheiffer for South Walton’s first touchdown. Pheiffer finished with eight receptions for 132 yards.
Pheiffer also snared an interception that set up a 39-yard scoring scamper by senior running back Brandon Whalen with 6:36 left in the third quarter. Whalen, who led the team with 10 carries on 59 yards, surpassed 700 yards rushing on the season.
South Walton’s second score came in the first minute of the second quarter, when Ortner connected with junior running back Sage Roberts on a 4-yard pass.
With 8:18 left in the third quarter, Ortner lofted a 15-yard heave to senior wide receiver Bishop Waldrop for his third touchdown pass.
South Walton wrapped up its scoring with 10:43 left in the game, when senior wide receiver Hampton Schaffer ran it in from the 1 for a 37-3 lead.
Franklin County, which ended 2-7, offered fans some excitement late in the game when senior lineman Mason Ray recovered a fumble on the 30.
On the opening play of their next possession, Franklin County junior quarterback Logan McLeod, filling in for the injured starter Dwayne Griggs, threw to junior tailback Mercury Wynn for an 80-yard touchdown with 1:07 left in the game.