MT. LEBANON — Other than the final score, two numbers best describe how Seneca Valley's Quad County Conference game against Mt. Lebanon played out Friday night — 36 and 233.
The first is how many yards the Raiders' defense allowed in the first half, after which SV led 14-0. The second was the yardage put up by the Blue Devils over the final two quarters as they rallied for a 26-20 victory on their home field.
“We needed to settle down,” said Mt. Lebanon coach Bob Palko. “In that first half, we were afraid to make mistakes. We had to settle in to what we do. If that wasn't good enough, then so be it, but we had to give ourselves a chance.”
The Blue Devils (3-1, 3-0) came out of the gate in the second half with purpose and it paid immediate dividends. Sam Rolfsen capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring run that cut SV's edge to 14-7.
The Raiders fumbled away their next possession on their first play from scrimmage and Mt. Lebanon quarterback Joey Daniels threw a scoring pass to Evan Jones on 3rd-and-goal from the 9. The extra point attempt was blocked, but Mt. Lebanon had wrestled momentum away from the stunned Raiders.
“We give up an 80-yard touchdown drive, then put the ball on the ground to give them another opportunity,” said Raider coach Ron Butschle. “I don't think we hit the panic button, but we started pressing.”
The Daniels-to-Jones connection was not done. After Mt. Lebanon's defense forced a 3-and-out, Daniels hit his tight end near midfield. Jones broke a tackle and was off and running for a 79-yard scoring play.
The Blue Devils, who had picked up just two first downs in the first half, had reeled off 19 points in a span of just three and a half minutes.
“Big plays, turnovers ... we did things you can't do and expect to win a football game,” said Butschle.
The Blue Devils turned their attention to eating time off the clock. Their ground game was pedestrian for much of the night, but Drew Vaughn carried the ball seven times for 56 yards after his team had gained the lead.
“We're trying to get the kids to see what works, what to do and what not to do,” said Palko. “It's a process.”
Vaughn's 34-yard run set up a 1-yard scoring plunge from Jones, who took several snaps at quarterback, with 4:23 in the game.
SV scored late on Gabe Lawson's 24-yard pass to Marciano McCowan. Rolfsen recovered an onside kick to seal the deal with 26 seconds left.
Lawson's touchdown pass was the silver lining in an otherwise rough night for the senior quarterback. He completed eight passes for 65 yards and was intercepted twice.
It was SV's rushing attack that spurred the pair of touchdowns in the first half. Ethan West scored from 22 yards out in the first quarter and Lawson from one yard in the second period.
At halftime, the Raiders had gained 86 yards on 19 carries. All the yards came from West, Lawson and Matt Stanger.
“The running game was working well in the first half,” said Butschle.
The Raiders (1-3, 1-2) host Butler Friday for the Eagle Traveling Trophy.
Seneca Valley 7 7 0 6 — 20
Mt. Lebanon 0 0 19 7 — 26
SV — Ethan West 22 run (Adam Davies kick), 4:20
SV — Gabe Lawson 1 run (Davies kick), :59
ML — Sam Rolfsen 2 run (Casey Sorsdal kick), 7:04
ML — Even Jones 9 pass from Joey Daniels (kick blocked), 5:19
ML — Jones 79 pass from Daniels (pass failed), 3:31
ML — Jones 1 run (Sorsdal kick), 4:23
SV — Marciano McCowan 24 pass from Lawson (kick blocked), :26
Rushing: Seneca Valley, Gabe Lawson 12-21, Ethan West 7-57, Matt Stanger 9-40, TEAM 1-(-5). Mt. Lebanon, Mason Ventrone 13-45, Joey Daniels 4-(-3), Evan Jones 6-10, Drew Vaughn 10-67, Sam Rolfsen 3-8, TEAM 3-(-30).
Passing: Seneca Valley, Gabe Lawson 8-19-65-2. Mt. Lebanon, Evan Jones 0-1-0-0, Joey Daniels 8-11-170-0.
Receiving: Seneca Valley, Ethan West 2-16, Nic Cook 2-6, Marciano McCowan 2-30, Matt Stanger 2-13. Mt. Lebanon, Sam LaSota 2-30, Mason Ventrone 1-4, Brodie Campbell 1-3, Evan Jones 3-124, Eli Heidenreich 1-12.