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Seneca Valley eases past Pine-Richland

| Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, 10:21 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Seneca Valley receiver Brad Hensler makes a one-handed catch in front of Pine-Richland's Brendan Burnham during the second quarter of their Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Seneca Valley receiver Eric Mrkonja scores a touchdown as Pine-Richland's Connor Trott defends during the second quarter of their Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Seneca Valley running back Mason Dehart scores against Pine-Richland during the first quarter of a Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine Township.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland running back Connor Slomka stiff-arms Seneca Valley's T.J. Holl during the first quarter of their Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci rolls out to pass during the first quarter of a Quad North game against Seneca Valley on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland receiver D'ondre Gastion catches a touchdown pass next to Seneca Valley's T.J. Holl during the second quarter of their Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland receiver Michael Merhaut scores past Seneca Valley's Brad Hensler during the first quarter of their Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland receiver D'ondre Gastion scores past Seneca Valley's T.J. Holl during the second quarter of their Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.

Points were so plentiful that both defenses and even a kicker reached the end zone.

Seneca Valley's Mason Dehart rushed for three touchdowns, Eric Mrkonja caught two more, and teammate Mike Smith carried a fumble 15 yards for another in Thursday night's 43-25 victory over Quad North host Pine-Richland.

The teams combined for 68 points and 642 yards.

Pine-Richland led 25-22 entering the fourth quarter. But Seneca Valley scored 21 consecutive points, including two touchdowns by Dehart. The junior had scoring runs of 7, 1 and 33 yards.

After six lead changes, Dehart's 1-yarder with 11 minutes, 3 seconds left gave Seneca Valley a 29-25 lead it didn't lose. Smith's strip-sack, fumble recovery and touchdown with 10:25 left stretched the lead to 11 points.

“The effort was there all along, but we were just all over the place,” Seneca Valley coach Don Holl said. “There were a lot of wide-eyes and uncharacteristic things we haven't seen in practice. We said, ‘Guys, we've found a way to lead this game. Now we need to execute what we do.' ”

Dehart's 33-yarder with 4:57 left clinched the win.

Both quarterbacks threw two touchdowns. Pine-Richland's Ben DiNucci completed 12 of 21 passes for 159 yards. Seneca Valley's T.J. Holl was 10 of 13 for 167 yards.

Seneca Valley used trickery on its go-ahead touchdown drive when Mike Smith caught a 15-yard pass near midfield on a fake punt. Seven plays later came Dehart's 1-yard run. The Raiders also showed creativity in the first quarter when kicker Chad Izenas ran for a two-point conversion.

The game was important for the teams, which have playoff expectations. Both started the season with Week 1 wins.

The teams combined for six first-half scores, and the lead changed hands on each. In the final three minutes before halftime, it switched three times, including twice in less than 37 seconds.

With 50 seconds left, a 29-yard catch by D'ondre Gastion gave Pine-Richland an 18-15 lead. But with 13 seconds left, a 54-yard catch by Mrkonja allowed Seneca Valley to lead 22-18 at halftime. It was the second touchdown catch by Mrkonja, who had caught an 18-yarder earlier in the quarter.

The lead changed hands again in the third when Pine-Richland's Jake Leone recovered a fumble in the end zone. At 7:45 of the third, Pine-Richland led 25-22.

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlanTrib.

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