Seneca Valley defense rises to the occasion
PINE TWP — Setting anger drove Seneca Valley football defensive lineman Aiden Lyczek to have a good week. The Raiders didn’t want to see the football marching up-and-down the field again.
After conceding 63 points in consecutive losses to Peters Township and Canon-McMillan, the Raiders had a different attitude Friday night at Rams Stadium. Seneca Valley refused to give any ground during a 13-3 win over the Rams.
“We were very upset and were fixing it throughout the week,” Lyczek said. “We were going back to base defense and were stacking days every day, having a good practice every day and focusing on the right things to do.”
Led by a devastating performance from the defensive line, the Raiders stopped their slide. Seneca Valley (2-2) limited Pine-Richland to minus-3 rushing yards on 26 carries. The Rams only finished with 115 yards of total offense.
Seneca Valley’s defensive line set the tempo.
“I think they played hard,” Raiders coach Ron Butschle said. “When their effort matches their talent, good things are going to happen. Tonight, especially with our defensive front, that was true.”
The Rams were forced into a three-and-out to start the game thanks to a sack by Aiden Huffman on Pine-Richland quarterback Kanan Huffman.
That sack forced the Rams into a third-and-25 they didn’t convert.
“The tackle I was going against, he was heavy set,” Lyczek said. “I push-pulled him and I was able to get to him.”
While the Raiders’ offense would have long stretches of ineffectiveness, they were sharp on their opening drive. Seneca Valley went 58 yards in eight plays to take the lead.
Raiders quarterback Graham Hancox converted a key fourth-and one with a sneak, then threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Luke Lawson on the next play.
After Seneca Valley’s opening drive, both defenses locked in. Neither team would score again until Pine-Richland’s Grant Argrio made a 42-yard field goal with five seconds left before halftime.
Huffman left the game with an injury in the first half. Vaughn Spencer stepped in for the Rams, passing for 118 yards, but threw two interceptions.
A surprising jolt of offense after halftime gave Seneca Valley what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. Hancox opened the second half with a 16-yard run. Then Hancox hit Jackson Wetzel for a 54-yard touchdown pass that stretched the Raiders lead to 13-3 with 11:16 left in the third quarter.
Hancox finished with 198 passing yards and added 27 on the ground.
“I like getting the kickoff to start the second half,” Butschle said. “It’s a momentum getter or momentum killer. We did exactly what we wanted to do, put the football in the end zone.”
Pine-Richland, marched inside Seneca Valley territory twice in the third quarter. Both times, Argrio sent kicks of 39 and 42 yards wide right.
Rams coach Jon LeDonne was disappointed Pine-Richland (2-2) couldn’t get more points on the board.
“We just wanted to get better at tackling the football than we were the last couple weeks,” LeDonne said. “We just didn’t finish a few yards. We need to get better at putting points on the board.”
Wayne Pirt stopped a Rams’ drive late in the fourth quarter by intercepting Spencer with less than five minutes left in the game. Seneca Valley’s Luke Lawson also intercepted another pass to kill Pine-Richland.
The Rams never got things going, just like Lyczek and his teammates planned for.
“We were able to handle it,” Lyczek said. “We watched film and knew the formations and stuff like that. We knew what they were going to run and we had to play our defense.”
Seneca Valley 7 0 6 0-13
Pine-Richland 0 3 0 0-3
S — Luke Lawson 6 pass Graham Hancox (Jacob Adams kick), 7:08
P — Grant Argrio 42 field goal, :05
S —Jackson Wetzel 54 pass Hancox (kick failed), 11:16
Rushing: Seneca Valley, Wyatt Cravers 12-40, Graham Hancox 7-27, Max Scanlan 3-(-2), Brayden West 1-(-6). Pine-Richland, Ryan Palmieri 16-24, Vaughn Spencer 7-(-12), Kanan Huffman 3-(-15).
Passing: Seneca Valley, Hancox 14-21-198-0. Pine-Richland, Spencer 10-23-118-2, Huffman 4-7-40-0.
Receiving: Seneca Valley, Jackson Wetzel 1-54, Brayden West 4-50, Chris D’Appolonia 1-41, Luke Lawson 4-31, Joe Babusci 1-9, Aiden Lyczek 1-0. Pine-Richland, Palmieri 6-65, Andrew Mellis 2-38, Nico Andrews 2-29, Vasilios Balouris 3-23, Bradford Gelly 1-3.