SENECA – One of the measures of a good team is how it responds to adversity. The Seneca football team had a chance to measure itself in that regard Friday night in an Interstate Eight Small showdown with Reed-Custer. The Irish lost a hard-fought 14-6 decision to perennial power Wilmington last week for their first loss of the season.
On a balmy homecoming night for the Fighting Irish, seniors Bo Taylor, Austin Applebee and homecoming king Tommy Lovett took center stage in a dominating 50-20 victory.
Applebee was a force on defense, notching a tackle for a loss, a sack and a tipped pass on the Comets’ first two series. On Seneca’s first series, Taylor bulled ahead for five yards on fourth-and-3. Three plays later, Lovett broke loose on a 21-yard touchdown run. When Seneca got the ball back, Taylor kept the ball and ran for 15 yards on third-and-10. Two plays later, he ran the same play, covering 35 yards en route to a touchdown and a 12-0 lead. After the Irish defense forced another three-and-out, Ben Barnett returned the punt 40 yards for a touchdown, and Taylor hit Applebee with the conversion pass to make it 20-0 with 15 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The quarter ended with Applebee pressuring Reed-Custer quarterback Mark Harper into a desperation pass to avoid a sack, and Taylor picked it off and returned it to the Comet 16. After a false start to begin the quarter, Lovett scored on his second 21-yard TD of the night and Taylor ran in the conversion for a 28-0 lead.
Reed-Custer finally had some success moving the ball in the second quarter. The Comets reached the Seneca four-yard line, but on fourth-and-1, Harper was stopped for a yard loss by Matt Johnson. The Irish then drove to the Reed-Custer 16, but Taylor’s pass to Applebee in the end zone fell incomplete as the first-half buzzer sounded.
Seneca outgained Reed-Custer 192-39 in the first half.
The Irish began the second half with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Lovett’s third TD of the night, this one from five yards out. He carried five times for 33 yards on the drive. Reed-Custer countered with a two-play drive. Harper hit Mason Dransfeldt for a 50-yard gain, then snuck in from the one to make it 35-6.
On Seneca’s next drive, Taylor started left, got pinned in near the sideline, reversed direction and went 62 yards for a touchdown and a 42-6 lead with 8:02 to go in the third.
Seneca’s second string came on midway through the third quarter. At that point, Taylor had 167 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries, while Lovett had 111 yards and three TDs on 21 attempts.
Reed-Custer scored on a 19-yard pass from Harper to Dransfeldt with 2.4 seconds left in the third to make it 42-13.