Braxton Graham rushed for five touchdowns as he helped lead the Seneca Indians to a 44-0 Big 8 Conference victory over East Newton in the regular season finale on Friday.
The Indians (6-3, 5-2 Big 8) started a bit slow thanks to a solid start by East Newton’s defense, but they finally broke free late in the first quarter when Chance Smith ran a wheel route and took a pass from Payton Rawlins 71 yards to make it 7-0.
Pretty soon, Graham would get heated up as he broke free on touchdown runs of 38, 15, and 13 yards, and hauled in a 54-yard pass from Rawlins all in the second quarter. Those four touchdowns made it 35-0 at halftime.
Seneca’s defense was also on its game, forcing five turnovers and pitching its second consecutive shutout.
“I thought our defense played very well,” Seneca coach Dan Scheible said. “We got five turnovers from them, and anytime you get a shutout at any level that’s a big deal. I thought our defense did a great job.”
Graham’s final regular season game as an Indian saw the senior rush for 190 yards on 20 carries. Meanwhile, Rawlins, also a senior, threw for 236 yards on eight completions. Another senior, Smith caught three balls for 90 yards. Ethan Dorland had three grabs for 57 yards.
“I thought we struggled a little bit coming out of the gate,” Scheible said. “I think part of that is tribute to East Newton. I thought the first drive (the Patriots) moved the ball on us, but they’ve moved the ball on everybody. They did some good stuff offensively and defensively.
“We kind of went back to some basic stuff and ran the counter and power, and (Graham) cut back on the grain a bit. I thought Payton had a good night from the standpoint that he got out of the pocket when he needed to and threw the ball very well on the run. We played much better in the second half.”
The Indians also recorded a safety in the game when Dalan Merriman made a tackle in the end zone.
The Indians will host Mount Vernon at 7 p.m. Thursday at Seneca High School in the district opener.
“Now we’ve got to flip the switch,” Scheible said. “Now it’s playoff football. Short weeks start now and we’ve got to be prepared.”