SENECA — Simply put, the Seneca Indians dominated Mount Vernon in all phases, winning the Class 3, District 4 opener on Thursday on Tom Hodge Field at Earl Campbell Stadium with ease, 40-7.
While Seneca's offense was its high-powered self again, the defense was just as impressive. Despite facing a Mountaineers squad that has been able to move the football through the air this season, the Indians held them to just 19 total passing yards in a lights-out performance.
Meanwhile, Seneca's Payton Rawlins had one of his better nights in a Seneca uniform — completing 12 of 15 passes and displaying accuracy like coach Dan Scheible had never seen from the senior before.
"Payton threw the ball as accurate as any game I've seen him throw it in the three years I've coached here," Scheible boasted.
Senior running back Braxton Graham had another big day, too, as he rushed for 180 yards.
Seneca's defense got things started early as they recovered a Mountaineers fumble to set its offense up with good field position. The offense capitalized, too, just two plays later when Graham broke free on a 40-yard run to make it 6-0 less than a minute into the game. On their second drive, Rawlins showcased his accuracy when he found senior receiver Chance Smith on a 48-yard strike with four minutes left in the first quarter to make it 12-0.
The defense then stepped up for the Indians again and forced a punt, and the offense made it count as they drove the field and scored on a Rawlins sneak with 11:30 left in the second quarter to make it 20-0. As was the trend all evening, the defense came through again for the Indians when senior Dalan Merriman picked off a pass at Seneca's 40 to help set up an eventual 46-yard strike from Rawlins to Graham through the air to make it 26-0.
Rawlins would eventually reward Merriman with a touchdown of his own as the duo hooked up for six more midway through the third quarter. The Mountaineers would then punch it in for their only score of the game, but the Indians responded early in the fourth quarter on a long touchdown run by Graham to make it 40-7.
"I thought it was a great team win," Indians coach Dan Scheible said. "Our special teams had a part, offense, defense. Everyboyd was in the flow. I thought it was a big win for us.
The Indians (7-3) advance where they'll entertain Cassville at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Seneca.
"We're excited to be playing (the Wildcats) at home," Scheible said. "We know Cassville is improved from when we played them before. I know they're a good football team. Well coached, good football players. We're excited to play them."