Neshannock shuts down Western Beaver, secures playoff berth

Friday, October 18, 2019 | 11:45 PM

There were a lot of playoff scenarios in a crowded Midwestern Athletic Conference entering Friday night, but the easiest way for Neshannock to secure a postseason berth was to go out and get a win.

Behind a dominating defensive effort and the running of standout senior Braden Gennock, the Lancers went out and got the victory they needed to punch their ticket into the playoffs.

Neshannock had four interceptions and Gennock rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-0 win over Western Beaver on senior night at Bob Bleggi Stadium.

The Lancers (7-2, 5-1) can take the MAC conference title with a win next Friday at Shenango. Western Beaver (6-3, 3-3) is still alive for a spot, but needs losses by Shenango and New Brighton next Friday and a win over Freedom on Saturday.

After missing the playoffs last year, getting back this season is satisfying for the Lancers.

“We’re in the dance and if you’re in the dance, you have a chance,” Lancers coach Frank Mozzocio said. “First and foremost, it’s great to be back in. We’ll look forward to that in a couple weeks, but we have a big game next week (at Shenango).”

Neshannock did it with a resounding effort on defense, sacking Golden Beavers quarterback Xander LeFebvre a half-dozen times. The Lancers held the Golden Beavers to 29 yards of total offense and 2 yards rushing.

“Our defense has done a great job of stopping the run all year,” Mozzocio said. “Tonight we were also able to stop guys from going deep on us, and that was huge. It was a great team effort defensively.”

Cam’Ron Owens and Jake Staph had interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, which set up Gennock for touchdown runs of 1 and 7 yards. That gave the Lancers a 14-0 lead going into halftime.

Gennock, who eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing last week, had another 1-yard score with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter to make it 24-0. He has 20 touchdowns on the year, including 19 on the ground.

“The secret is my line,” Gennock said. “They do a great job. Every week they get off the ball and as long as I find the hole, I can make my moves and find the end zone.”

Western Beaver has four comeback wins this season, but couldn’t solve Neshannock’s defensive pressure.

“We wanted to come out, execute our plays and do what we have done all season, but when you don’t block anybody, it’s tough to score points” Western Beaver coach Derek Moye said. “We didn’t really do anything well offensively and that starts with our blocking and our protection.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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