CANONSBURG — Lucas Lambert provided the best remedy for a Seneca Valley football team's offense looking for answers.
By pouncing on two Canon-McMillan fumbles in the second quarter Friday night at Big Macs Stadium, the sophomore defenseman lineman provided the Raiders' offense with extra opportunities during a 31-17 victory.
“I think our four up front, their pressure was really good,” Lambert said. “I feel like everyone was on tackles, punching the ball and getting ready. When the ball came out, we were all down on the ball.”
Seneca Valley — which forced six turnovers — also scored a defensive touchdown when James Sprentz caught a tipped pass in the end zone in the third quarter
“Our defense came up huge with turnovers,” Raiders coach Ron Butschle said. “Our defense last week was embarrassed by our performance. They played with an edge.”
The Raiders (3-1, 3-1) were looking for continuity as they played without senior running back/linebacker Ethan West. West, who was injured early in the Raiders' loss to Central Catholic last week, didn't play against the Big Macs.
Lambert's fumble recoveries came during a stretch where three straight Big Macs drives ended with fumbles. The Raiders turned two of those turnovers into touchdowns.
“We prepped hard on what was coming for their run stuff and all their pass stuff,” Lambert said. “We were prepared for it.”
With the game tied at 3, Seneca Valley slung Canon-McMillan quarterback Lamont Lyons Jr. to the ground and forced a fumble early in the second quarter. Lambert recovered and the Raiders scored two plays later.
Brian Olan, who finished with 275 yards passing and two touchdowns, found Luke Lawson for a 16-yard touchdown to put Seneca Valley ahead, 10-3, with 7 minutes, 38 seconds left before halftime.
Two drives later, Lambert fell on another fumble after Canon-McMillan running back Ryan Angott couldn't take the handoff clean from Lyons.
Angott, who rushed for 444 yards in his previous three games, was limited to 48 on 10 carries. Big Macs coach Mike Evans said Angott injured his shoulder in the third quarter and he decided not to play him in the fourth.
But Evans doesn't believe the injury impacted why the Big Macs' had issues in the running game.
“They came in and knew to stop the run,” Evans said. “Hey, listen, it's my fault. We have to throw the ball better. We can't let people load up on us.”
After Lambert hauled in a 20-yard pass, Nolan Dworek scored on a 7-yard run to extend Seneca Valley's lead to two scores.
The Raiders compounded Canon-McMillan's misery before halftime. Olan found Dworek out of the backfield and he fought off a push from a Big Mac defender before running down the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown that put Seneca Valley ahead 24-3 with 28 seconds left in the half.
Canon-McMillan (2-2, 2-2) opened the second half with a touchdown drive that ended with Mario Eafrati hauling in an 8-yard touchdown pass that was tipped by a Seneca Valley defender to cut the lead to 24-10.
But stacked up inside his own five, Lyons faced a heavy pass rush and tried a desperation pass that deflected and caught by a leaping Sprentz.
“I didn't call my best game,” Evans said. “We went into this game expecting to win and we didn't.”
Seneca Valley outgained the Big Macs 299-236.
With the win, the Raiders established themselves in third place in the Quad County Conference.
“I'm happy with the win,” Butschle said. “That was a big conference win for us. We know we have to win out if we are going to be a three seed in the playoffs. Every game for the rest of the year is a playoff game for us.”
Seneca Valley 3 21 7 0 — 31
Canon-Mac 3 0 7 7 — 17
SV — Adam Davies 37 field goal, 7:03
C-M — Anthony Finney 25 field goal, 4:03
SV — Luke Lawson 16 pass from Brian Olan (Davies kick), 7:38
SV — Nolan Dworek 7 run (Davies kick), 2:45
SV — Dworek 69 pass from Olan (Davies kick), :28
C-M — Mario Eafrati 8 pass from Lamont Lyons Jr. (Finney kick), 8:07
SV — James Sprentz 0 interception return (Davies kick), 3:31
C-M — Isaiah Chandler 3 run (Finney kick), 8:14
Rushing:Seneca Valley, Nolan Dworek 20-76, Mitchell Curran 5-9, Cole Mrkonja 1-2, Brian Olan 6-(-27), TEAM 1-(-29). Canon-McMillan, David Mowod 2-54, Ryan Angott 10-48, Isaiah Chandler 5-22.
Passing:Seneca Valley, Brian Olan 12-23-275-2. Canon-McMillan, Lamont Lyons Jr. 12-18-130-2.
Receiving:Seneca Valley, Connor Lyczek 5-84, Nolan Dworek 2-83, Lucas Lambert 3-71, Josh Miller 1-21, Luke Lawson 1-16. Canon-McMillan, Anthony Finney 3-42, Aries Cushenberry 2-30, Mario Eafrati 2-21, David Mowod 1-17, Chris Davis 2-12, Ryan Angott 2-2.