SENECA -- It didn't take long for Seneca's defense to set the tone in Friday night's 46-0 Homecoming win over Dwight in the Interstate Eight Conference Small Division.
The Fighting Irish kicked off to Dwight to start the game and, after the Trojans were whistled for an illegal procedure penalty before the first play, the backwards procession continued. Seneca's defensive line poured into the backfield to stop Triston Dircks for a 10-yard loss back to the Dwight five and, after Dircks got a yard back on the next play, the third-down pitchout was fumbled in the end zone and Seneca's Brandon Webb fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead just 1:26 into the game.
"I don't remember exactly what was going through my mind when I saw the ball on the ground," Webb said. "I just fell on it like I have been coached to do. I've never scored a touchdown in high school football, so to get one when I am a senior on Homecoming night is pretty cool."
The Seneca defense forced Dwight into a three-and-out on the ensuing series and, after the Trojan punt went just 6 yards, the Irish (4-3, 4-1) took over at the Dwight 26. Unfortunately, Seneca fumbled the ball back to Dwight, but then forced another punt. Logan Pifer fielded it at midfield and returned it to the Dwight 38, and a personal foul set the Irish up at the Trojan 23. On the sixth play of the drive, Peyton Schrag scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak and his conversion pass to Austin Applebee made it 14-0. Another three-and-out, this one highlighted by a 12-yard sack by Matt Johnson and Brad Wyss, gave Seneca the ball at midfield. Schrag did most of the work on the drive, completing passes of 16 yards to Applebee and 13 yards to Bo Taylor before carrying it in the final 13 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
After another Dwight punt, Schrag hit Applebee (4 catches, 96 yards) for a 45-yard touchdown. On the next Seneca drive, the pair teamed for a 26-yard connection on 3rd-and-11 for a first down. 30-yard run by Pifer put the ball at the Dwight 5, and Mike Taylor scored from there for a 34-0 lead. The Seneca defense got an interception when Jimmy David grabbed a pass that had been tipped by teammate Tommy Lovett at midfield and returned it to the 30. On 2nd-and-21 from the 27, Schrag (6 carries for 55 yards, 5-of-9 passing for 109 yards) ran for a 26-yard gain and Bo Taylor scored from the one with 1.5 seconds left in the first half, ensuring the running clock for the entire second half.
So dominant was the Seneca defense on the night that Dwight did not manage a first down until the final minute of the game, and that came on a pass on a fake punt call.
"Our defense has been our strength," Seneca coach Ted O'Boyle said. "We did a real good job keeping our focus tonight. I was a little worried about that since we didn't have school today, but the kids played great. And, it's always good to have a score on the board before your offense touches the ball. We hadn't had a defensive score yet this year, so that was good to see."