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Seneca Valley reaches semifinals for 1st time in 14 years

| Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 10:50 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Seneca Valley's Ryan McCauley catches a touchdown pass behind Mt. Lebanon's Josh Alberts during the first quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at North Allegheny. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Seneca Valley's Jon Dorogy scored an 84-yard touchdown on a pass play named Porsche, fitting for an offense with the speed of a sports car.

Dorogy caught two long scoring passes and Forrest Barnes added a 43-yard touchdown run in Friday night's 32-13 victory over No. 5 Mt. Lebanon, leading the Raiders into the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals for the first time since 1997.

“This is one of the biggest wins, if not the biggest, in Seneca Valley history,” said Dorogy, who caught three passes for 136 yards.

Jordan Brown completed 11 of 14 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns at North Allegheny's Newman Stadium, a setting often unwelcoming for the No. 4 Raiders (10-1). But this time they had reason to celebrate.

“This was big,” Brown said, “big for our school, big for everybody.”

Barnes rushed for 141 yards on 28 carries, including a 43-yard fourth-quarter touchdown that sealed the victory. R.J. McCauley, who scored Seneca Valley's first touchdown, also had an interception and two sacks. Dorogy also had an interception.

Not since 1989 had Seneca Valley won two playoff games; with a first-round bye, only one was needed in 1997 to reach the semis.

Awaiting the Raiders next Friday will be a rematch with Quad North rival North Allegheny (11-0), the No. 1 seed, which advanced with a 42-14 victory over Bethel Park. Mt. Lebanon finished 8-3 under first-year coach Mike Melnyk; all three losses came against teams still alive in the playoffs.

“We don't have any excuses; they played better than we did tonight,” Melnyk said. “When you walk away from the season after getting beat by a better team, at least you can live with it.”

Three touchdown passes by Brown gave Seneca Valley a 20-6 lead at halftime, including a fourth-and-goal pass to McCauley and pair of long scores to Dorogy, who had 136 yards on three catches.

Seneca Valley started with a 14-play, 73-yard drive that included 12 consecutive runs and consumed more than six minutes. But facing fourth down at Mt. Lebanon's 5, Brown threw to tight end R.J. McCauley in the back of the end zone. The touchdown catch was McCauley's eighth, tying the team's single-season record. The Raiders led 6-0 with 5:50 left when their two-point conversion failed.

Their next two scoring drives weren't nearly so long.

A 44-yard touchdown catch by Dorogy and his 84-yarder minutes later both came on the first play of Seneca Valley drives. The first, with 32 seconds left in the first quarter, gave the Raiders a 13-0 lead. The second, with 2:37 left in the second, extended that lead to 20-3.

“I knew they were going be focused on Forrest,” Dorogy said, “so whenever I got my opportunities, I took advantage.”

“Sometimes you hit the lottery and you come up with the right play at the right time,” Seneca Valley coach Don Holl said, “but it always comes down to your playmakers.”

Mt. Lebanon's only first-half points were from two field goal by Dimitri Orfanopolous. The senior made kicks of 26 and 37 yards, giving him six this season.

The Blue Devils had chances, including a first-and-goal situation in the second quarter at Seneca Valley's 9. But quarterback Tyler Roth threw three incompletions before they turned to Orfanopolous.

In the fourth quarter, a first-and-goal at the 2 ended with four straight incompletions.

Seneca Valley already was leading by three scores. Roth completed just 10 of 32 passes for 139 yards. The senior threw one touchdown and two interceptions.

A 12-yard catch by Mt. Lebanon's Mike Briercheck in the third quarter gave Mt. Lebanon its first touchdown. The fourth-and-5 scoring pass capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive, which was the first possession of the second half. The drive consumed nearly six minutes and cut into Seneca Valley's 20-12 lead.

But the Raiders added 12 points in the fourth, including a safety when Roth was tackled in the end zone.

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at charlan@tribweb.com.

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