In boxing terms, the Seneca Valley football team is a heavyweight. With some excellent skill players, the Raiders have the ability to out-punch most teams.
But every once in a while, even a heavyweight has to be technically sound and win with defense, not punching power.
The Raiders did just that Friday.
After a high-scoring first half, Seneca Valley relied on its defense to come up with some big plays to help the visiting Raiders defeat North Hills, 40-26, in a WPIAL Class AAAA Northern Eight Conference game.
Seneca Valley (6-1, 5-1), which is off to one
"The Northern Eight is tough top to bottom," Seneca Valley coach Don Holl said. "You know every week is going to be a battle. It's like rounds in a heavyweight fight. You get in the corner, get cleaned up a little and then go back out and fight."
Against North Hills, Seneca Valley surrendered just 54 yards in the second half after allowing 19 points in the first half. They forced a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter to hold off an Indians squad who fought valiantly, but couldn't get out of their own way at times. The Indians commited 12 penalties for 93 yards.
Seneca Valley looked ready to throw a knockout punch in the third quarter. The Raiders took a 33-19 lead when Jordan Brown found R.J. McCauley for an eight-yard touchdown. After forcing a North Hills three-and-out, the Raiders drove to the Indians 28, but Jon Dorogy fumbled. North Hills Kevin Koch picked up the loose ball and returned it 78-yard for a score.
After the Raiders went three-and-out, North Hills advanced the ball to the Seneca Valley 7 on the final play of the third quarter. However, on fourth-and-goal, North Hills quarterback Brian Johnson was sacked by T.J. Holl and a loose ball was returned by Nick Dahlstrom into Indians territory.
"We're thinking we're about to go up three scores and then all of a sudden they are within one score, and then we get the strip sack and recovery which was huge," said Don Hall.
After Chad Izenas missed a field goal, North Hills got the ball back, but Seneca Valley forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. The Raiders then drove 25 yards in three plays, a drive capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Forrest Barnes, his third of the game.
Barnes rushed for 156 yards on 29 carries. Brown completed 11 of 18 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 58 yards. For North Hills, Johnson was 3 of 7 for 114 yards. Jordan Blackmon scored on a 90-yard kickoff return and a 28-yard run, but left the game late in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
"That really hurt us," North Hills coach Jack McCurry said. "It would be like taking Forrest Barnes away from them."
Barnes, who entered the game with 15 touchdowns -- including seven in one game -- scored the first of his two first-half touchdowns on a 6-yard run. Barnes scored on a two-point run to give Seneca Valley an 11-6 advantage, but Blackmon hit for another big play on a 28-yard scoring run that came on the final play of the first quarter and gave North Hills a 13-11 lead.
After Barnes' second touchdown run, North Hills quarterback Johnson connected with Josh Hulbert for a 42-yard scoring strike with 1:22 left to play before halftime. It then took Seneca Valley only four plays and 47 seconds to end the half on a high note when Brown threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Holl.
"We felt like for a while that it was one of those games where you just had to take your turn," Holl said. "You have to score when you have the ball because nobody was getting their feet under them on defense in the first half."
First Published October 13, 2012 4:45 AM