Rochdale manager Keith Hill finally conjured the first win of his second spell in charge, at the fourth attempt, thanks to an early Rhys Bennett goal.
The right-back tucked home a rebound after goalkeeper Michael Poke had saved his initial shot.
Top scorer Rene Howe missed an early chance for the Gulls and Billy Bodin fired another effort over the bar.
It was Torquay's fourth straight defeat and fifth game without manager Martin Ling, who is absent with an illness.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Rochdale manager Keith Hill told BBC Radio Manchester:
"It's the 99th league win of my career and I can't wait to get to 100.
"I'm really pleased with the response from the players. We turned a week's work into a positive result today.
"There's a lot to work on - let's not be naive about this - but the players want to learn, improve and be successful."
Torquay United's caretaker manager Shaun Taylor told BBC Devon:
"I told the players I can't fault their effort and endeavour. We're disappointed with the goal we conceded - it was poor collectively as a team.
"They got the goal and we were fighting for the rest of the game really.
"They're battle wounded but have got to go again on Tuesday."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +4:16
Lloyd Macklin is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Josh Lillis restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +3:16
Corner from the right by-line taken by Kevin Nicholson, save made by Josh Lillis.90:00 +0:55
Ashley Grimes concedes a free kick for a foul on Daniel Leadbitter. Free kick taken by Daniel Leadbitter.89:48
Foul by Lloyd Macklin on Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, free kick awarded. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff takes the free kick.87:57
Shot by Ashley Grimes from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.85:49
Terry Gornell takes a shot. Comfortable save by Michael Poke.80:21 Substitution
Substitution Elliot Benyon comes on in place of Billy Bodin.80:21
Rhys Bennett gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Billy Bodin. Kevin Nicholson delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Kevin McIntyre manages to make a clearance. Rene Howe has an effort at goal from outside the box which misses left.79:45
Shot from outside the area by Andrew Tutte misses to the left of the goal.74:20
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Daniel Leadbitter by Kevin McIntyre. Kevin Nicholson crosses the ball in from the free kick.72:16
Angus MacDonald challenges Ashley Grimes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Rhys Bennett takes the free kick.70:16
Terry Gornell has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand post.69:23 Substitution
Substitution Michael Rose joins the action as a substitute, replacing Andy Haworth.69:23
Lloyd Macklin challenges Shane Cansdell-Sherriff unfairly and gives away a free kick. Josh Lillis takes the indirect free kick.64:19 Substitution
Substitution Aaron Downes goes off and Angus MacDonald comes on.63:37
Effort from outside the penalty box by Jason Kennedy goes wide right of the goal.60:56
A cross is delivered by Kevin Nicholson.58:07
Andrew Tutte takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Lloyd Macklin.57:24
Unfair challenge on Andrew Tutte by Craig Easton results in a free kick. Brian Barry-Murphy takes the direct free kick.
Substitution Lloyd Macklin joins the action as a substitute, replacing Nathan Craig.55:52
Header from close range by Ashley Grimes misses to the right of the goal.53:58 Substitution
Substitution George Donnelly goes off and Ashley Grimes comes on.52:47
Unfair challenge on Craig Easton by Brian Barry-Murphy results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Kevin Nicholson, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff manages to make a clearance.51:19
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Terry Gornell by Brian Saah. Brian Barry-Murphy takes the free kick.49:54
Corner taken by Brian Barry-Murphy.49:07
George Donnelly takes a shot. Save by Michael Poke.47:48
Kevin McIntyre gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ryan Jarvis. Free kick taken by Nathan Craig.45:40
Kevin Nicholson takes the direct free kick.45:40 Booking
Booking The referee books George Donnelly for unsporting behaviour.45:31
George Donnelly gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Lee Mansell.45:01
The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.45:00 +1:03 Half time
Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.43:13
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rene Howe by Rhys Bennett. Kevin Nicholson takes the direct free kick.41:51
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Nicholson by George Donnelly. Michael Poke takes the free kick.40:58
George Donnelly challenges Lee Mansell unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kevin Nicholson takes the indirect free kick.40:10
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rene Howe by Brian Barry-Murphy. Nathan Craig takes the direct free kick.39:27
Foul by George Donnelly on Kevin Nicholson, free kick awarded. Kevin Nicholson takes the direct free kick.38:31
The official flags George Donnelly offside. Indirect free kick taken by Brian Saah.36:12
Terry Gornell takes a shot. Michael Poke makes a comfortable save.35:00
Close range header by Billy Bodin goes over the bar. Free kick awarded for a foul by Aaron Downes on Terry Gornell. Direct free kick taken by Brian Barry-Murphy.30:41
Effort on goal by Billy Bodin from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.30:22
Phil Edwards challenges Ryan Jarvis unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Lee Mansell.29:12
Phil Edwards concedes a free kick for a foul on Rene Howe. Free kick taken by Kevin Nicholson.26:44
Corner taken right-footed by Andrew Tutte from the left by-line to the near post, Corner taken by Andrew Tutte. Effort on goal by Terry Gornell from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar. Daniel Leadbitter fouled by Jason Kennedy, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Kevin Nicholson. Kevin Nicholson makes a clearance.25:21
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rene Howe by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff. Free kick crossed left-footed by Nathan Craig, clearance made by Brian Barry-Murphy.24:53
Daniel Leadbitter fouled by Andy Haworth, the ref awards a free kick. Michael Poke restarts play with the free kick.23:45
Corner taken left-footed by Brian Barry-Murphy, Aaron Downes makes a clearance.21:24
Terry Gornell concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee Mansell. Direct free kick taken by Aaron Downes.20:15
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Andrew Tutte from the left by-line, Aaron Downes makes a clearance.19:36
Nathan Craig takes the inswinging corner, Josh Lillis makes a save.18:46
The assistant referee flags for offside against Terry Gornell. Indirect free kick taken by Michael Poke.17:13
Assist on the goal came from Andy Haworth.17:13 Goal scored
Goal! - Rhys Bennett - Rochdale 1 - 0 Torquay Rhys Bennett finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Rochdale 1-0 Torquay.16:36
Rhys Bennett takes a shot. Save made by Michael Poke.14:09
Unfair challenge on Brian Barry-Murphy by Brian Saah results in a free kick. Andrew Tutte produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick.12:22
Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Kevin Nicholson, Aaron Downes produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.11:55
George Donnelly gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kevin Nicholson. Kevin Nicholson takes the free kick.9:29
George Donnelly has an effort at goal from outside the box missing to the wide left of the goal.8:28
Corner taken right-footed by Andrew Tutte, clearance made by Ryan Jarvis.6:30
Rene Howe takes a shot. Josh Lillis makes a save. Corner taken by Nathan Craig, save by Josh Lillis.2:24
Effort from outside the penalty box by Andrew Tutte goes wide left of the goal.1:17
Lee Mansell challenges Andrew Tutte unfairly and gives away a free kick. Brian Barry-Murphy restarts play with the free kick.0:00
The match has kicked off.
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