JACKSON TWP — Late in the second quarter Friday against Hempfield, Seneca Valley found itself nursing a 6-0 lead.
Eight plays and two interceptions later, the found themselves up 18-0 over their conference opponent, a lead they held on to improve their record to 5-2 on a misty Senior Night.
The shutout and overall pristine defensive effort is one Seneca Valley coach Ron Butschle didn't understate.
“Our defense has been kind of saving our behinds,” he said of a defense that's given up 50 points all season and pitched three shutouts. “(They're) playing lights out.”
Following a Gabe Lawson punt to pin the visiting Spartans at their own seven, senior Jake Stebbins picked a tipped Blake Remaley pass out of the air and took it near the goal line. Lawson appeared to score on the very next play, but a procedure penalty negated his effort. He cashed in for real four plays later from a yard out.
“It happens,” Lawson said of the waved-off touchdown. “It got called back and we had to do it again. ... I put my head down and was hoping to get a yard.”
Lawson credited his teammates for helping on the score.
“I got pushed in,” he laughed.
After the ensuing kickoff, Ramaley looked deep and was intercepted by senior Josh McLean, who returned the ball to the 20. Lawson found senior Luke Smith on the following play to give the Raiders an 18-0 lead.
“Give the defense credit for putting us in great field position to take advantage of those things,” Butschle said.
Lawson and Mclean opened the scoring on the Raiders' first possession, an 11-play drive that took nearly half of the first quarter and was capped by a 13-yard pitch and catch. On their next possession, Lawson ripped off a 51-yard run to the Hempfield 20, and on the ensuing play, junior running back Matt Stanger appeared destined for the end zone. He lost the ball, which rolled to the one-yard line before Hempfield jumped on it.
“Offensively, we can't turn the ball over in the red zone,” Butschle said of the sequence.
Butschle was critical of the team's offensive output, which didn't generate much in the second half.
“We've got to be able to find some answers to some things,” he said. “We've been shooting ourselves in the foot. We've got to get better.”
Lawson was the offensive catalyst, throwing for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He added 58 yards and a score on the ground.
“He's a great athlete, but we've got to figure out some other complements to him,” Butschle said. “You can't rely on your quarterback running the football all the time.”
The Raiders also relied heavily on Stanger, who finished with 56 yards on 19 carries. Hempfield (1-6) was paced by Remaley, who was responsible for the majority of his team's 129 total yards.
Butschle and his team were happy to leave with a win, particularly on a Senior Night that saw 25 players honored.
“It means a lot to me just to think it's one of the final home games we'll play,” McLean said. “But all that matters to me is that we got the team win.”
“Sometimes they don't always look the way you want them to, but a win is a win,” Butschle added.
Seneca next hosts Woodland Hills on Friday for Homecoming.
Hempfield 0 0 0 0 — 0
Seneca Valley 6 12 0 0 — 18
SV — Josh McLean 13 pass from Gabe Lawson (kick blocked), 6:44
SV — Lawson 1 run (kick failed), 2:18
SV — Luke Smith 20 pass from Lawson (conversion failed), 1:58
Rushing: Hempfield, Blake Remaley 15-14, TEAM 11-(-1). Seneca Valley, Gabe Lawson 9-58, Matt Stanger 19-56, TEAM 6-11.
Passing: Hempfield, Blake Remaley 16-24-115-2. Seneca Valley, Gabe Lawson 10-20-116-0, Caden Smithco 1-4-12-0.
Receiving: Hempfield, Mario Perkins 8-56, Clay Metz 5-38, Daniel Roby 1-3, Shane Hill 1-13, Roman Pellis 1-5. Seneca Valley, Luke Smith 4-60, Josh McLean 3-40, Jake Stebbins 1-12.