Seneca Valley steamrolls North Hills
Longtime North Hills coach Jack McCurry prides himself on defense, and the Indians have been characteristically stout against opposing offenses this season.
“It didn't look like it tonight,” McCurry said with a sheepish smile after a 40-26 loss to Seneca Valley on Friday. “We haven't given up that many points in a long time.”
In almost three years, to be exact. Gateway dropped 42 on North Hills in a WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal victory Nov. 20, 2009.
This season, the Indians hadn't allowed more than 20 points in a game and were allowing 10.5 points per contest.
Then again, North Hills had yet to see an offense as potent as the Raiders' Jordan Brown-led spread attack.
Forrest Barnes rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns, and Brown passed for 205 yards and two touchdowns, as visiting Seneca Valley (6-1, 5-1) had 453 yards of offense in winning a key Quad North matchup.
“I'll say the coachspeak part first,” Raiders coach Don Holl said. “It's only one win, and we take them one at a time, and it's only one — but it's a big one.”
Holl's son, T.J., had a touchdown reception, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for Seneca Valley, which has scored 187 points in winning its past four.
Jordan Blackmon scored TDs on a 90-yard kickoff return and on a 28-yard end-around for North Hills (5-2, 3-2), which committed 12 penalties for 93 yards in having a four-game winning streak snapped.
Barnes had 105 of his rushing yards during a wild, back-and-forth first half that featured six lead changes.
The teams alternated scores, beginning with a Chad Izenas 25-yard field goal 5:23 into the game for Seneca Valley and ending with a Brown 7-yard touchdown pass to Holl with 35 seconds left in the second quarter that gave the Raiders a 26-19 lead.
“We knew coming into the second half that it was our game to win,” T.J. Holl said.
The Raiders took the game's first two-possession lead when they scored on their opening drive of the second half. Brown scrambled to buy time before finding a wide open R.J. McCauley in the right corner of the end zone to give Seneca Valley a 33-19 lead less than 5 minutes into the third quarter.
The Raiders then appeared poised to put the game away when they drove deep into North Hills territory — but a Jonathan Dorogy fumble was scooped up by Kevin Koch, who ran 78 yards the other way to pull the Indians back to within 33-26.
After a stop by the North Hills defense, the Indians put themselves in position to tie the game in driving inside the Seneca Valley 10. But Holl sacked Brian Johnson from the blind side and forced a fumble that Nick Dahlstrom picked up and returned to the North Hills 42.
The Raiders didn't score there, but Holl would recover a fumble the next time North Hills got the ball. That led to Barnes' third touchdown with 8:24 left.
“In those kind of games where you take your turns scoring on offense ... it's always the team that makes the stop that wins the game,” Don Holl said. “Our defense made a couple big stops — and that changed the game.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.