MERCERVILLE — For the second time in three weeks, and against the South Gallia Rebels once again, mistakes doomed the East High School football team.
That’s because the Tartans, two weeks after losing to South Gallia 22-14 at Allard Park in Sciotoville, fell on Friday night in the non-league return match at Mercerville —losing 40-34 for their third consecutive defeat.
East is now 2-3, as the Tartans filled their week-five schedule hole with the Rebels —which they will face as a Southern Ohio Conference Division I member next year.
The Tartans took the second South Gallia game —following Federal Hocking having been forced to cancel its season on Aug. 1.
The Rebels, now 3-2, charged out to leads of 20-6 following the first quarter and 34-12 entering the last, but the Tartans tallied two rushing touchdowns to get within eight points (34-26) late.
But SGHS quarterback Hunter Wright, who completed half of his 18 passes for 183 yards including an opening-scoring 74-yard bomb to Tanner Sanders, scored a late touchdown himself — from 33 yards out to make it 40-26.
On South Gallia’s second and third touchdowns, sandwiched around an East lost fumble, Wright went to Logan Saber for paydirt pitches and catches —the first of which went for 38 yards.
Sanders fir 80 yards, Saber for 77 yards and Brycen Stanley for 20 yards each caught two of Wright’s passes.
East actually outgained the hosts 441 to 364, including a massive 430-181 in rushing yardage, but miscues messed with the Tartans again —to the tune of 11 penalties for 67 yards and two more lost fumbles with four fumbles total.
The Tartans totaled 22 first downs to the Rebels’ nine, and ran 29 more running plays (55-26), as Austin Baughman completed a pair of passes on 10 attempts for 11 yards —both to Landehn Pernell.
The Tartans’ top rushers included Dylan Fitzgerald for 159 yards on 18 carries, Pernell for 146 yards on 17 tries, and Cameron Justice with 60 yards on 11 totes.
Prior to the fourth-quarter comeback, the closest East got since early on was with two minutes to play in the third —when Fitzgerald found the end zone from 30 yards out to make it 26-12.
In the initial matchup, much like Friday night, four turnovers turned that game distinctly in the Rebels’ favor —along with five East penalties, including a 15-yard roughing-the-kicker call, a 15-yard personal-foul face mask, and another 15-yard personal-foul flag.
East returns to the road for the third straight game, and opens Southern Ohio Conference Division I play, on Friday night at 0-5 Eastern.
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