Pair of goal-line stands help Seneca Valley hold off North Allegheny

Friday, October 29, 2021 | 11:44 PM

Even though both teams already had clinched playoff spots heading into their matchup, Seneca Valley and North Allegheny were battling for an opening-round bye in the WPIAL Class 6A bracket.

No. 4 Seneca Valley’s (7-3, 5-2) defense answered the bell with two goal-line stands — the second in the waning moments — as the Raiders held on to win 17-12 over No. 3 North Allegheny (6-4, 4-3) in a Quad County Conference game Friday night at NexTier Stadium.

With 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining, the Tigers caused a Raider fumble and took over at Seneca Valley’s 35-yard line. North Allegheny quickly was knocking on the door after sophomore quarterback Logan Kushner connected with senior wide receiver Cole Dorn to get the Tigers down to the 6-yard line.

The next play, Kushner rushed it in for a touchdown, but it was called back because of a penalty. After a couple of incompletions, Kushner tried to scramble for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal but was stopped at the 2-yard line.

“It was a total team effort,” Seneca Valley coach Ron Butschle said. “Our defense had goal-line stands, which is huge, and they got turnovers when we needed them. Our offense sustained some drives when we needed to and got ourselves out of some holes when we needed to. Our special teams did well. I thought it was a great team win.”

Senior running back Nolan Dworek’s 3-yard touchdown run gave the Raiders a 17-10 lead with 6:38 remaining in the game. On the drive, Dworek converted a fourth-and-2 with the addition of a facemask penalty by the Tigers to give the Raiders a fresh set of downs at the Tigers 12-yard line. A couple of plays later, Dworek ran it in for a touchdown.

“One of the things we were able to do is establish a run game,” Butschle said. “Nolan (Dworek) ran hard, and our offensive line did well. We hit some short passes here and there to keep them off balance. The offensive line and Nolan on that drive really took over.”

Dworek finished with 137 yards rushing and the winning touchdown on 28 carries.

The eventual winning drive by Seneca Valley started after Kushner tried to take a shot downfield but was picked off by junior Wayne Pirt with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter. Kushner’s shot downfield came on the heels of Seneca Valley’s sophomore quarterback Sean O’Shea’s interception that gave the Tigers the ball at the Raiders 35-yard line.

In the first quarter, the Tigers had a chance to score with the ball at the 5-yard line, but the Raider defense stood strong. North Allegheny lined up for a field goal, but decided to run a trick play as Harron Lee took the snap and tried to run it in on the right side with 4:03 remaining in the first quarter.

“It definitely a tough one to lose,” North Allegheny coach Art Walker said. “You got to give Seneca Valley credit. They hung in there, and they denied us an opportunity to score a couple times. We hope the kids learn from some of the things we did with not executing and not keeping our composure. I hope it has a lasting impact.”

Seneca Valley got on the board first after O’Shea threw the flea-flicker pass to Luke Lawson for the touchdown with 10:55 remaining in the first half. Lawson outjumped the Tiger defender in the back of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown reception, which capped a drive that started at the Raiders 26-yard line.

O’Shea, who made his third start in place of the injured Graham Hancox, finished 10 of 16 for 116 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.

A couple of drives later, North Allegheny started to have success as it went up-tempo with a drive starting near midfield. Kushner rolled out to his right and found Taylor for a 5-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:36 remaining in the half.

Kushner finished 16 of 29 for 210 yards passing with a touchdown and interception.

On the ensuing drive, the Raiders were driving down the field in the final minutes of the first half. However, Dworek fumbled,l and the Tigers recovered at their own 17-yard line with 1:16 remaining in the first half.

Both teams traded field goals to start the second half. Camden Bush connected on a 29-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead. Lee responded with a 20-yard field goal to tie the score with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter to tie the game at 10-10.

North Allegheny outgained Seneca Valley, 323-318, in total offense. The Raiders out rushed the Tigers, 202-113, in the win.

Canon-McMillan clinched the No. 5 seed in the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs after Baldwin lost to Mt. Lebanon on Friday night. The Big Macs will face North Allegheny next week at North Allegheny.

“We made it tougher on us now,” Walker said. “We have a tougher road with everyone but us and Canon-Mac getting byes. The best part of it is that we have it at home. We are going to wake up tomorrow morning and get focused on the home playoff game against Canon-Mac and not focus on the game from tonight.”

Listen to an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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