By PATRICK CASEY
Junior quarterback Johnathan Ortner threw for 426 yards and four touchdowns while adding a 29-yard scamper for the first score of the game as South Walton earned a key district victory on the road in Bonifay on Friday night to spoil the Bluedevils’ Homecoming game. The high scoring shootout produced more than 1,100 yards of total offense as both teams struggled to stop the other.
Holmes County junior running back Chad Leavins had 336 rushing yards, 70 passing and a 54-yard touchdown reception as he finished the night with 460 all-purpose yards in the game. He had touchdown runs of 70, 14, 41, 45 and 57 yards as he scored 36 of the home team’s 40 points in the game.
Zach Reese led the Seahawks’ rushing attack with 151 yards on the ground and a touchdown while receiver Alex Smith caught seven passes for 177 yards with scoring receptions of 61 and 66 yards, the last of which finally sealed the victory with 7:10 left in the contest.
South Walton led 28-7 at the half but the game devolved into a track meet as Holmes County used the running game while South Walton’s balance held the Bluedevils at bay.
The Seahawks had two turnovers in the second half which helped the home team rally to within 41-34 with 9:47 left in the game but Phil Tisa’s squad kept the offense moving at full stride as they improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in district play with a win needed over Bozeman on Nov. 1 to wrap up a playoff berth.
The Seahawks rolled up 30 first downs in the game and ran 76 plays from the line of scrimmage to only 52 plays for the host squad.
The Seahawks are 4-3 against Holmes County in the history of the series and won for just the second time in Memorial Stadium. The Seahawks won their first-ever meeting with the Bluedevils in Bonifay 16-14 in 2007.
South Walton will travel to Freeport on Friday night to face the Bulldogs in the “Battle of the Bay.” Freeport is 1-6 this season after receiving a forfeit last week from North Bay Haven and lost in Northview 35-0 on Oct. 18.