Late Heroics Lead Central Catholic Past Seneca Valley

Posted on:

Central Catholic didn’t score its only touchdown of the game until there was 28 seconds left and then the Vikings defense made a touchdown-saving tackle as time expired Friday night, sending Central Catholic to a 10-7 victory at Seneca Valley in the Class 6A Conference Opener.

Central Catholic’s offense had mustered only 79 yards from scrimmage before it put together an 85-yard game-winning touchdown drive. The Vikings ran the ball 14 consecutive times, ending with a 2-yard bootleg around right end by quarterback Dom Pieto on fourth and goal.

The game-winning drive lasted more than seven and a half minutes but left just enough time that Seneca Valley almost rallied.

The Raiders completed a Hail Mary pass from midfield as time expired — thrown by Gabe Lawson, tipped by Mehki Gay and caught by James Sprentz at the 5-yard line. Sprentz pushed toward the goal line but was tackled three yards short by Jaishon Hawkins, the only defender in position to stop him.

The victory gives second-ranked Central Catholic (2-0, 1-0) a key early-season victory in WPIAL Class 6A. Seneca Valley (0-2, 0-1) was ranked fourth.

The teams split their head-to-head matchups last season with Central Catholic winning 20-14 in Week 1 and Seneca Valley winning the rematch 15-14 in the WPIAL playoffs.

Central Catholic led 3-0 at halftime after a 42-yard field goal by Johnathan Opalko early in the second quarter. The two teams combined for five punts, one interception and one failed fourth-down conversion before halftime.

Seneca Valley remained scoreless until the first play of the fourth, a 12-yard touchdown run by Matt Stanger.

Leading 7-3 with 8 minutes left, Seneca Valley had a decision to make. The Raiders could try to convert fourth-and-15 at Central Catholic’s 30 or punt. They chose to pin Central deep.

With Dontre Jones and Eddy Tillman both hurting, Central Catholic turned to sophomore running back Antonio Pitts for the game-winning drive. Pitts gained 45 yards on five carries before Jones returned to the backfield.

Facing first-and-goal at the 7-yard line, Pieto gained three yards and Jones added consecutive 1-yard runs on second and third. On fourth and 2, Pieto scored easily on the bootleg.

Central Catholic’s passing game had managed just 30 yards and two interceptions on eight attempts, so the Vikings stuck to the ground. The Vikings totalled 136 rushing yards on 40 carries.

Central Catholic, who plays all home games at a neutral field, will host North Allegheny at Shaler on Friday. North Allegheny (2-0, 1-0) have yet to allow a point this season. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.