Heartbreaking loss for Raiders: Blocked punt ruling goes Mt. Lebanon’s way in 17-14 Blue Devils win
JACKSON TWP —Seneca Valley (0-5, 0-2) is still looking for its first win of the season after a heartbreaking 17-14 loss to Mt. Lebanon (4-1, 1-1) on Friday night at NexTier Stadium.
With 2:48 left in the fourth quarter, Mt. Lebanon took the field up by a field goal, with the chance to put the game away and escape with a victory. The Raiders forced a three-and-out and blocked the ensuing punt, appearing to set them up in Mt. Lebanon territory with a chance to get in the win column for the first time all season.
But it was ruled that a Seneca Valley player touched the ball before being recovered by Mt. Lebanon. The Blue Devils re-gained possession and ran out the clock, draining the energy from a raucous crowd.
Seneca Valley’s second half comeback came up just short.
Seneca Valley head coach Ron Butschle believes that his team is better than its record shows.
“I know we are 0-5 but we are not an 0-5 football team”, Butschle said. “I think we are a better team. We are going to start a new season next week, we’re going to keep swinging harder … It hasn’t gone our way yet, but it will. These guys deserve to have some success.”
Mt. Lebanon scored on each of its first two touches of the game. Senior running back Fred LaSota took the Blue Devils’ first play from scrimmage for 40 yards to open the scoring. The Blue Devils leaned on LaSota throughout the game as he carried the ball 15 times for 98 yards. LaSota also blocked a punt on special teams.
“We had a couple big mistakes that cost us the game — that’s what happens when you’re a young team,” Butschle said.
The Raiders responded with a long touchdown drive, capped off by a one-yard touchdown rush by senior quarterback, Sean O’Shea, but Mt. Lebanon senior return man Matthew Nguyen took the kickoff 85-yards for a score to put the Blue Devils back out in front just seconds later.
Mt. Lebanon senior kicker Bernard McAuley extended the lead to double digits in the second quarter and Seneca Valley entered the locker room down by 10.
Raiders running back Kai West made his impact felt in the second half. West averaged over nine yards per carry last season, but couldn’t find much of a rhythm in the first half. West carried the ball five times for 43 yards on the first drive of the third quarter, with a 15-yard touchdown rush to trim the deficit to three.
West finished the night with 76 yards on the ground. O’Shea totaled 83 yards rushing – and accounted for over 200 yards of total offense – to help get the Raiders back into the game.
“He’s a tough kid,” Butschle said of O’Shea. “We’re lucky to have him.”
Seneca Valley pitched a shutout in the second half. Butschle’s defense put together several crucial stops to give its team a chance to win – including forcing a missed field goal attempt after the Blue Devils started a drive in the red zone – but it wasn’t enough.
“You gotta play all three phases for four quarters,” Butschle said.
Seneca Valley will look to pick up its first win of the season next week against Butler.
Seneca Valley 7 - 0 - 7 – 0 --- 14
Mt. Lebanon 14 - 3 - 0 - 0 --- 17
ML — Fred LaSota 40 run (McAuley kick good) 9:47
SV – Sean O’Shea 1 run (Adams kick good) 4:13
ML – Matthew Nguyen 85 kickoff return (McAuley kick good) 3:59
ML – Bernard McAuley 31-yard kick good 5:40
SV – Kai West 15 run (Adams kick good) 2:08
Rushing: SV: Sean O’Shea, 16-83, Kai West, 17-76. Mt. Lebanon: Fred LaSota, 15-98, Michael Malone, 9-57, James Green, 3-4.
Passing: SV: Sean O’Shea, 12-21-121-0. Mt. Lebanon, Michael Malone, 3-9-15-0.
Receiving: SV: Dajaun Webb, 4-66, Cayden Parker 4-45, Kai West, 2-10, Luke Challingsworth, 2-0. Mt. Lebanon: Fred LaSota, 1-15, James Green, 2-0.