SENECA — The Seneca Indians showed Friday why they’re not a team to be taken lightly.
Dominant line play spurred a rushing attack that saw Indians junior tailback Braxton Graham go off, and the Indians shelled Mount Vernon, 48-20, in a big Big 8 Conference victory.
The Mountaineers entered the game with only one loss this season, but found themselves shaking their heads when they stepped back on the bus as they had no answer for Graham, or the rest of the Indians for that matter. The Indians amassed 404 rushing yards on 41 carries, with the bulk coming on the legs of Graham, who went for 303 on 14 tries. Marty Mailes rushed 19 times for 78 yards.
Graham also came up big on special teams. He had a 50-yard kickoff return and ran a punt back 85 yards for a touchdown.
Get all of that? Let’s rewind.
Things didn’t begin well for the Indians as they fumbled the opening kickoff and gave the Mountaineers good field position to start the game. But the defense stepped up in a big way, stopping Mount Vernon and forcing a field goal, which missed, to give the ball back to the offense.
Seneca (3-3, 2-2 conference) responded by driving the length of the field and scoring on an 18 yard pass from Payton Rawlins to Butch Ferguson to make it 7-0. Graham then responded with the 85 yard return to make it 14-0 with 2:54 remaining in the first quarter, and followed that with a 43 yard scamper on the next possession to stretch it to 21-0.
The route was on.
Mount Vernon (4-2, 2-2) would score to cut the deficit to 21-7, but Rawlins would throw touchdowns to Chance Smith (15 yards) and Jalon Skaggs (23 yards) before the end of the half. A two-point conversion pass from Rawlins to Kyler Ng made it 35-7 at halftime.
Marty Mailes scored on a nine yard run in the third quarter and Rawlins had a five-yard touchdown run to punctuate the victory.
“I think (the turning point) was stopping them there and getting the missed field goal,” Indians coach Dan Scheible said.
“In every football game there’s good things that happen and there’s bad things that happen. I think that when we fumbled the opening kick we didn’t go to an immediate low. We just tightened up, played defense, they missed the field goal, and it just worked out great for us.”
Rawlins completed nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns
Shane Williams rushed 16 times for 126 yards and two scores for the Mountaineers.
Scheible says much of the credit belongs to Seneca’s linemen.
“I thought our defensive line played well and I thought our offensive line played well,” he said. “They did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides.
Page 2 of 2 - “Our kids played very well. We played an emotional, physical football game, and I think when we do that we’re a really good football team.”
The Indians travel to Carl Junction next week.