Seneca Valley ends Norwin’s playoff hopes
Heading into its matchup against Seneca Valley, Norwin knew it needed to take care of business plus get some outside help in order to qualify for the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs.
But Norwin (3-7, 2-6) saw its season come to a close with a 21-13 loss to Seneca Valley (7-3, 5-3) at home in a Quad County Conference game Friday night.
With the loss, Norwin finished with four straight losses against Central Catholic, Canon-McMillan and Mt. Lebanon.
“We were focusing on what we could control. We knew we had to win and get some help from Butler,” coach Dave Brozeski said. “It came down to us having some inopportune times that we weren’t able to execute and not making enough plays to win the game.”
The Raiders used their rushing attack, led by senior running back Jake Mineweaser, on the rainy night. Mineweaser finished with 119 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
On the opening drive of the game, the Knights marched down the field and ended up having the ball for nearly six minutes before kicker Carter Breen hit a 22-yard field goal to open the scoring.
After the Raiders forced a three-and-out, Norwin had an opportunity to capitalize on a Seneca Valley muffed punt. However, the Knights turned the ball over on downs at the Raiders 21-yard line after failing to convert on a fourth-and-short.
A couple possessions later, Seneca Valley pinned the Knights on the 4-yard line. The Knights couldn’t get much of a cushion on the drive, and the Raiders forced a punt.
Norwin’s punt was muffed, and Seneca Valley took over at the 4-yard line after the Knights scrambled to reach the first down marker. On the next play, Mineweaser got his first touchdown run of the night to give the Raiders a 7-3 lead with over three minutes remaining in the half.
The Knights responded before the half as they drove 75 yards. Norwin lined up in the wildcat formation as senior Gianni Rizzo channeled his inner Tim Tebow and threw a 3-yard jump pass to junior Jake Merlin to give the Knights a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Seneca Valley got its running game rolling on its opening drive of the second half as Mineweaser scored on a 25-yard run to cap a 56-yard drive and restore the Raiders’ lead, 14-10.
“In the second half, our offensive line did a great job. We ran the ball, and we were able to control it and keep them off the field quite a bit,” Ron Butschle said. “The first drive of the second half is a strong indicator how things are going to go. It’s nice that you can take the ball and drive it into the end zone.”
Norwin had an opportunity to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. After roughing-the-passer and offsides penalties on the Raiders, the Knights had a chance to punch it in from 2 yards, but junior Jack Salopek was sacked and Norwin settled for a Breen 32-yard field goal to cut the Seneca Valley lead to 14-13 with over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
“I’m proud how the guys battled the whole entire game. We were battling to finish the season strong, and I’m proud with how the guys did that,” Brozeski said.
Salopek was 14 of 26 for 162 yards passing.
The Raiders responded with a drive that lasted more than six minutes and ended when junior quarterback Gabe Lawson scored on a 22-yard run. Lawson looked to be stopped around the line of scrimmage but rose from the crowd and raced for the far pylon to give the Raiders a 21-13 lead with over three minutes remaining.
“We’re going to restart and take the momentum of a win into playoffs,” Butschle said. “It’s much better to go into a playoff after a win. We don’t want to back into the playoffs.”