North Allegheny edges Seneca Valley in defensive battle

Friday, September 28, 2018 | 10:54 PM

Seneca Valley and North Allegheny lived up to their reputations in a showdown between the two stingiest defenses in WPIAL Class 6A.

The teams struggled on offense most of the night, but the No. 2-ranked Tigers did just enough to hold off the No. 4 Raiders, 10-6.

Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Melzer each had an interception, and Ethan Augustin and Amosis Porter each tallied 1.5 sacks to lead a North Allegheny defense that surrendered just 112 yards of total offense and minus-3 yards in the second half.

The Tigers defense put the clamps on the Seneca Valley offense after the Raiders opened the game with a masterful 13-play drive that gobbled up 69 yards and resulted in a Gabe Lawson 2-yard touchdown run.

After that, NA coach Art Walker and his team held their opponents to just 43 yards.

“We responded poorly (to the first drive) right away. Offensively, we just went backwards, but we responded phenomenally defensively,” Walker said.

“(Assistant coach) Doug Brinkley has done a tremendous job with the defense and continues to do so. He has the guys playing well, making great checks, great calls. They started flying to the ball and giving the quarterback less time.”

Offensively, the Tigers were powered by a Joey Colella’s 1-yard touchdown run and a 20-yard field goal by Isaac West.

Quarterback Ben Petschke threw for 109 yards while completing 6 of 12 passes, with an one interception.

The sophomore’s favorite target was wide receiver Luke Colella, who singlehandedly accounted for almost every big offensive play in the game. The junior led the Tigers in rushing, with 49 yards on four carries, and receiving, with 101 yards on four receptions.

“He was a starter as a sophomore last year. He’s quick, he’s got the ability to make plays,” Walker said of Luke Colella.

“We’re glad that we got him the ball a couple of times in a couple of different ways, and he did good things with them. He made the most of his opportunities. I think he grew up a little bit tonight and became more of a junior, and a guy that we can depend on.”

For Seneca Valley, Lawson passed for 70 yards while completing 10 of 18 passes with one interception. The junior accounted for his team’s only score, while rushing for 28 yards on 13 carries.

All in all, it wasn’t enough on offense as Raiders coach Ron Butschle said he and his coaches will have to go back to the drawing board in order to remedy their shortcomings.

“As the play caller, you always want to try to get in a rhythm, and it just seemed like we couldn’t get in a rhythm in the second half,” Butschle said.

“We had a lot of second-and-longs and third-and-longs on offense and those are tough positions to be in. North Allegheny made great adjustments, they manned up on us and stacked the box and we had a tough time blocking them. We’ll have to figure that out.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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