SANTA ROSA BEACH -- The South Walton Seahawks rolled up almost 500 yards to post a 45-38 win over the Chipley Tigers in a District 3-1A varsity football contest.
"We just played our hearts out," said South Walton Coach Phil Tisa. "We wanted it."
The Seahawks got the job done on the ground and through the air.
Junior quarterback Jonathon Ortner completed 25 of 41 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns. Alex Smith had two touchdown catches, one for 19 yards and the other 2. Zach Reese had a 20-yard touchdown reception as well as rushing for 76 yards and a 1-yard plunge for a TD. Chandler Parrett had a 9-yard catch for a touchdown and Sage Roberts caught a pass for a 26-yard score.
Not only did Ortner get it done through the air but also on the ground. He carried the ball nine times for 62 yards. Harrison Schaffer rushed seven times for 29 yards and a 1-yard score.
A big difference in the game was turnovers. South Walton knocked the ball loose three times with Zack Armer, Wesley Miller and Nick Harris each making recoveries.
"The turnovers were huge," Tisa said.
"We just played with intensity all night long."
Tisa added that earlier on Friday that he talked with the team about being winners and what it takes to win … "and we did it," he said.
The Seahawks got on the scoreboard first at the start of the second quarter. South Walton capped off a 70-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge by Schaffer. Austin Garofalo kicked in the point after.
With 8 minutes left in the first half, Chipley got the ball and scored in two plays. Kobe McCrary, who had 176 yards on the night, broke lose for a 57-yard scamper to the end zone. Darren Stewart ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-7 game.
South Walton failed to make a first and had to punt.
Chipley again struck quickly on a 71-yard dash by Stewart. Stewart rushed 19 times in the game for 208 yards. The 2-point conversion was good and the Tigers were up 16-7.
South Walton answered with a one-minute drive. Ortner completed a 16-yard pass to Smith, then a 24-yarder to Roberts. Reese picked up 23 on the ground and then carried it in on the next play from 1-yard out. The kick after was good for a 16-14 game.
Again Chipley broke a big play with Zack Campbell scoring on a 61-yard run. Tyrome Sharpe was good for the 2-point conversion.
Right before the half, the Seahawks put together an 11-play drive with Ortner connecting with Reese on a 20-yard completion for the score. The two-point try failed for a 24-20 game at the half.
At the start of the third, the Seahawks knocked the ball loose on the third play with Miller making the recovery at midfield.
The Seahawks took it down the field with Ortner completing four passes on the drive with the last going to Smith in the middle of the goal line for a 19-yard score. The kick after was blocked by Chipley's JJ Holmes.
Chipley answered with a long drive of its own. Campbell scored on a 8-yard run around the left end. McCrary ran in the2-point conversion for a 32-26 lead.
At the start of the fourth, the Seahawks took the lead with a quick drive. Ortner completed three passes with the final going to Parrett in the end zone on a 9-yard completion.
Chipley got the ball and lost control on a reverse play with Harris picking it up for the Seahawks.
South Walton scored in three plays with Ortner connecting with Roberts on a 26-yard strike for the score. Garofalo was good on the kick for a tie game at 38-38.
With 5:51 left in the game, South Walton gained control once more and marched down the field in 12 plays for the score. Ortner connected with Smith in the end zone for a 2-yard TD reception. The kick after hit the upright for a 45-38 game.
"I can't explain the emotion right now," Tisa said as he walked off the field. "This is a huge win for this program. I love those kids."
Next Friday the Seahawks take on Cottondale at home at 7 p.m.