Second half sinks Seneca against Iroquois West

SENECA – After a fairly solid first half of play, the Seneca football team held onto a 14-13 advantage at halftime against Iroquois West.

But the Fighting Irish fell flat throughout the final 24 minutes, as the Raiders dominated time of possession (17:01 to 6:59) and posted three scores, as Seneca ultimately fell 32-20 during the first week of the Vermillion Valley Football Alliance’s North Division schedule.

The Irish (1-4, 0-1 VVFAN) could muster only 73 yards of offense and three first downs in the second half for a game total of 213 yards in offensive productivity.

Meanwhile, Iroquois West (4-1, 1-0) racked up 293 of offense of their own, mostly off the legs of junior running back Trystyn Schacht, who toted the ball a whopping 32 times for 220 yards and a pair of scores including 20 carries and 118 yards of rushing during the Raiders’ impressive ball-control second half.

Senior running back Brock Moore led the Irish with nine carries and 73 yards rushing along with 54 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns — one by ground and another by air from sophomore quarterback Nathan Grant (five completions, 86 yards).

But the locals just couldn’t contend with the methodic and dynamic nature of Iroquois West’s ground game, particularly in the second half.

“They dominated the time of possession in the third quarter, and for most of the second half for that matter,” said SHS coach Terry Maxwell. “We felt pretty good at halftime, but we just couldn’t seem to keep them off the field after halftime.

“Credit to Iroquois West. They were very physical and came out and made a statement in the second half.”

The Raiders got on the board first in the opening stanza when Schacht completed an 11-play, 52-yard drive with a 5-yard run at 4:07 to give the visitors a 6-0 lead after the extra point was missed.

The Irish would take a 7-6 lead in the second quarter when Moore bolted up the middle for an electrifying 40-yard touchdown run at 5:17 ahead of freshman Paxton Giertz’s extra-point kick.

After a three-and-out by Iroquois West, Grant hit Moore with a 54-yard touchdown pass wide open up the middle at 2:56 that gave Moore his second score of the game and Seneca a 14-6 lead after a great play call from Maxwell.

Junior John Ahlden (18 carries, 73 yards, two TDs) added a 1-yard plunge at 1:45 to cut Seneca’s lead to one at halftime.

“Getting Brock (Moore) back from injury this week really helped us early,” Maxwell said. “But we just couldn’t sustain our offensive effort in the second half, mostly because they did such a great job keeping us off the field.”

The Raiders took the opening kick of the second half and traveled 65 yards on 12 plays that ended with junior quarterback Sam McMillan’s 1-yard sneak at 6:00 that gave Iroquois West a 20-14 lead that it would never relinquish.

Schacht would add a 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter at 11:55 followed by an Ahlden 1-yard burst at 6:41 that gave the Raiders an insurmountable 32-14 advantage.

Seneca did manage to complete the game scoring when Grant rambled home on an 18-yard bootleg shortly thereafter at 3:17, but it was too little too late for the Irish on homecoming night.

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky is an award-winning sports journalist and the recipient of the Illinois Coaches Association 2016 Sportsperson of the Year Award for his softball expertise and coverage.