JACKSON TWP — Mt. Lebanon senior kicker Casey Sorsdal's extra point dented Seneca Valley's hopes for hosting a WPIAL Class 6A playoff game for the first time since 2013.
The Raiders, facing a Blue Devils team looking at possible elimination from the postseason, were undone by miscues and penalties during a 28-27 overtime loss Friday night at NexTier Stadium.
Seneca Valley had three passes intercepted and was hit with roughing the punter and defensive holding penalties on Mt. Lebanon's two second half scoring drives.
“Turnovers and penalties, they killed us,” Raiders coach Ron Butschle said. “The two games we lost, it's because we turned the ball over and committed penalties.”
Seneca Valley (5-2, 5-2) took the momentum into halftime following a James Sprentz interception. The Raiders scored two plays later on an 18-yard catch-and-run by Luke Lambert on a pass from Brian Olan, extending their lead to 14-7.
Mt. Lebanon's first possession of the second half is where the Raiders' trouble started. With the Blue Devils backed up with 4th-and-7 on their own 33, Seneca Valley was whistled for roughing the punter.
Two plays later, Mt. Lebanon's Alex Tecza went for a 57-yard touchdown. Tecza, who also scored on a 61-yard run in the first quarter, led all rushers with 174 yards on 17 carries.
Seneca Valley also scored its first touchdown in unorthodox fashion. Running back Nolan Dworek corralled a wild snap and ran it in for an 8-yard score to tie the game at 7.
“I don't I could have asked them to play harder than they did,” Butschle said. “I'm proud of them because they played with heart. We are lucky we get another week.”
Seneca Valley went ahead again, 21-14 on a 22-yard run by Lyczek with 1:16 left in the third quarter. Lyczek, who led the Raiders with 64 yards rushing and scored three times, operated out of the Wildcat for several possessions.
It was a new wrinkle for Seneca Valley's offense.
“This week is when we first put it in with me,” Lyczek said. “I like it. It gives me a new opportunity. It gets me to run the ball, I used to do it in the youth football days. It gives me something to do and I like it.”
The fourth quarter saw several wild swings. Mt. Lebanon tied the game at 21 with a 21-yard touchdown run by Maurice Plummer with 10:51 remaining.
The next three possessions – two by Seneca Valley and one for Mt. Lebanon – would only last five plays. Grayson Dee and Tecza would snare interceptions for the Blue Devils, while Mitchell Curran also grabbed one for the Raiders.
Mt. Lebanon coach Bob Palko was pleased with how his team kept battling back.
“We have to learn to have a little bit of grit and resiliency,” Palko said. “It's that whole situation when it comes to trying to change a whole culture. You are happy when that grit comes out.”
That toughness came out during overtime.
The Blue Devils won the toss and wanted to play defense first.
When Mt. Lebanon blocked Adam Davies' kick after Lyczek's touchdown, he knew the Blue Devils were in good shape.
“The biggest play of the game was the coin toss,” Palko said. “He called tails. I let my captain make that decision. Furio Fedel, he's the guy, I let him make the call.”
Mt. Lebanon quarterback Joey Daniels found Eli Heidenreich on the second play of their overtime possession for a 10-yard touchdown. The Blue Devils made the extra point and escaped with the victory.
Lyczek believes the experience will toughen Seneca Valley up for the ensuing playoff run.
“When we go into the playoffs we are going to want some revenge and keep building on it,” Lyczek said. “No matter what happens we are going to go full force. Whatever happens, happens.”
Mt. Lebanon 7 0 7 7 7 — 28
Seneca Valley 7 7 7 0 6 — 27
ML — Alex Tecza 61 run ((Casey Sorsdal kick), 9:06
SV — Nolan Dworek 8 fumble return (Adam Davies kick), 1:29
SV — Lucas Lambert 18 pass from Brian Olan (Davies kick), :40
ML — Tecza 57 run (Sorsdal kick), 9:17
SV — Connor Luczek 22 run (Davies kick), 1:16
ML — Maurice Plummer 24 ryun (Sorsdal kick), 10:51
SV — Lyczek 10 run (kick failed)
ML — Eli Heidenreich 10 pass from Joey Daniels (Sorsdal kick)
Rushing:Mt. Lebanon, Alex Tecza 17-174, Maurice Plummer 4-28, Ryan Martin 1-3, Joey Daniels 6-0, Eli Heidenreich 1-(-4). Seneca Valley, Connor Lyczek 13-64, Nolan Dworek 16-62, Brian Olan 5-19.
Passing:Mt. Lebanon, Joey Daniels 7-12-57-2. Seneca Valley, Brian Olan 8-17-1-6-2, Connor Lyczek 1-1-7-0.
Receiving:Mt. Lebanon, Eli Heidenreich 3-33, Brian Anderson 1-31, Mike Beiersdorf 1-8, Alex Tecza 1-5. Seneca Valley, Connor Lyczek 3-55, Lucas Lambert 1-18, Luke Lawson 2-18, James Sprentz 3-16, Josh Miller 1-7.