Seneca Valley takes scenic route to win over Hempfield

Saturday, October 5, 2019 | 12:23 AM

The longer the Seneca Valley football team bus meandered through Hempfield late Friday afternoon, searching for a more direct route to Spartan Stadium amid the chaos of homecoming activities, the more Raiders coach Ron Butschle’s stomach churned.

Good thing his players seemed oblivious to the developing urgency of reaching their destination on time.

Gabe Lawson passed for 204 yards and had a hand in four touchdowns for No. 5 Seneca Valley in a 40-12 victory at Hempfield as the Raiders inched closer to another WPIAL playoff berth.

Seneca Valley (3-4, 3-3), which bounced back from a 40-7 loss to No. 1 North Allegheny last week, reached the Class 6A championship game last season before falling to Pine-Richland, 34-7.

“We’ve got three games left (at Woodland Hills and at home against No. 3 Pine-Richland and Norwin),” Buetschle said. “Our goal is to finish up winning those three and get some momentum going into the playoffs.”

Friday’s victory didn’t come without some anxious moment ahead of time.

“It was slow going once we got off the turnpike,” Butschle said. “We were driving through some neighborhoods to get here, and my stomach was churning inside.”

His players didn’t seem to let it bother them.

Lawson completed 10 of 17 passes, including a 33-yard touchdown strike to Marciano McCowan, and scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and a 10-yarder.

Ethan West scored twice for Seneca Valley on runs of 14 and 2 yards.

With Hempfield staging its annual pregame homecoming parade in the Fort Allen section of the township, traffic backed up along the main thoroughfare of Route 136 leading to the high school. To add to the anticipation, Butschle said Route 30 from North Huntingdon to Hempfield was moving at what seemed like a snail’s pace.

“I thought maybe there was an accident that was holding us up,” he said.

Realizing Seneca Valley likely would be late arriving, Hempfield decided to move the kickoff back a half-hour to 7:30 p.m.

“Luckily, they pushed the time back,” Butschle said. “Once we got in and got started, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Once we got into the the locker room, it was business as usual.”

Following the lopsided loss to top-ranked North Allegheny on Sept. 27, Butschle said his team “did a good job of refocusing” this week.

Hempfield (2-5, 1-5), which dropped its fourth game in a row, scored on a pair of Blake Remaley touchdown passes in the second half, 37 yards to Nathan Roby and 9 yards to Roman Pellis.

Remaley, despite playing with a sprained ankle, completed 15 of 26 passes for 174 yards.

The Spartans also continued to play without running back Mario Perkins, who likely is out for the remainder of the season with a broken arm.

“We’re struggling right now,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “Teams know Nathan Roby is the key, and they’re keying on him. Early in the season, with Perkins at tailback and Roby in the slot, and Blake being healthy, it was nice to be able to mix it up.”

Bowen wishes the WPIAL would revert back to four classifications so the Spartans could resume play against their traditional rivals, many from Westmoreland County.

“It’s so different now,” he said, “but we have to play who they give us. There’s no excuses here, and we’re not making any. We’re disappointed in how we played tonight. But you can’t dwell on it because every week in this conference is a battle.”

Seneca Valley led, 7-0, after the first quarter on West’s 14-yard touchdown run. The Raiders made it 19-0 at halftime, Lawson crossing twice on 1-yard runs, the second coming with just 34 seconds left.

The lead reached 33-0 in the third quarter on West’s 2-yard touchdown run and Lawson’s 33-yard scoring pass to McCowan.

“Our quarterback probably played his best game of the year,” Butschle said. “We had good balance running the football, and he threw some balls in some tight windows that he hasn’t really done all year. I’m hoping that’s who we are for the rest of the year.

“We’re in a good position, I think.”

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