By Kevin O’Rourke
Seneca Valley Head Coach Fred Kim diagnosed the biggest problem his team had back in the second week of the season after his team beat Rockville, “We started out slow, again,” said Kim after week two.
Coming into Thursday night’s game against 4-0 Sherwood, Coach Kim knew a slow start could result in long night, especially if you considered that Sherwood was ranked sixth in the county by MoCoFootball.com and had the top rated quarterback and receiver in the county, in Neven Sussman and Marcus Simms.
However, the Eagles came out screaming in the first quarter putting the ball in the end-zone three times early in the game. Scoring got started with Darius Golston 13 yard run to put the Eagles on the board 7-0 just three minutes and five seconds into the game.
Seneca Valley would score four minutes later on a four-yard pass from SV’s sophomore quarterback Zack Robinson to sophomore receiver Dawayne Kelley, Jr. with 4:41 left in the first quarter.
Seneca Valley would score again with just 10 seconds left in the first on nine-yard rush from Adrian Feliz-Platt. The Screaming Eagles were ahead of the unbeaten Sherwood Warriors 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Sherwood would get a field goal from junior kicker Shawn Bliss to narrow the margin to 21-3 in the second quarter.
The fear of a slow start was gone, now the Screaming Eagles would have to be able to hold-off Sherwood’s potent passing attack in the second half. While the Seneca Valley defense was unable to completely contain the potent Sherwood passing attack, the Screaming Eagles defense was able to put enough pressure on Sherwood’s Sussman to keep him uncomfortable in the pocket, and twice forced him to throw illegal forward passes which ended Sherwood drives.
Sherwood’s quick strike ability show itself with 2:02 remaining in the third as Sussman connected with Myanthony Starnes for 48 yard touchdown pass down the right sideline, to cut the lead to 21-10.
With 9:15 left in the fourth quarter, Seneca Valley’s defense would come up big as junior defensive tackles Michael Hoffman-Hackett and Chris Makanyanka stuffed Sherwood’s running back on a fourth and three at the Screaming Eagles 20 yard-line.
Seneca Valley’s next offensive possession seemed doomed, as the Sherwood defense was able to force Coach Kim to try for a fourth-down conversion, and fourth and inches. However, a delay of game penalty pushed Seneca back, and luckily forced the punt.
Luckily, because as fate would have it, the punt was fumbled by the Sherwood’s Myanthony Starnes and recovered by Seneca Valley’s Dawayne Kelley.
The Seneca Valley offense was back in business at the Sherwood 40 yard-line. The Eagles would drive to the Sherwood 12 yard line, and faced a fourth-and-two. At which point, Feliz-Platt would scamper for his second touchdown of the game to give the Screaming Eagles the lead 27-10 with 4:14 remaining.
A combination of illegal formation and illegal motion penalties would move the extra point back and Andrew Magnuson would clink the ball off the left upright, no good.
The next play from scrimmage would again show why Sherwood was 4-0 with a potent passing game as Sussman would hook up with Marcus Simms for an 80-yard touchdown. Seneca Valley’s lead was shrinking 27-17, with 4:04 seconds remaining.
Another huge special teams play by Seneca Valley would get them ball back in good field position, after Sherwood tried an on-side kick.
The Eagles, however, would be unable to capitalize on the turnover, as the drive was hampered by a 15 yard personal foul call and five yard false start penalty, forcing a punt with 2:52 seconds.
The punt would be a beauty, bouncing inside the Sherwood five to be downed by senior Jamal Ofori at the 4 yard line.
With no time outs left, Sherwood would take over deep in their own territory. Sussman would complete a 14 yard pass to get some breathing room, but the Seneca Valley defense would hold. Sherwood would try for the deep strike but the pass was overthrown. Two plays later Sussman being chased out of the pocket, by Chris Makanyanka would run past the line of scrimmage and throw an illegal forward pass giving the Screaming Eagles the ball on the Sherwood four yard line with 50 seconds remaining.
Zack Robinson and the Seneca Valley offense would kneel twice to end the game.
The Seneca Valley offense put points on the board, and defense was able to limit the damage done by the Sherwood passing game, but Seneca Valley’s special teams might have been the difference in this game -- with two fumble recoveries, one on the on-side kick and another on the muffed punt in the fourth, which lead to a touchdown. Also, the punt coverage which pinned Sherwood inside its own five very late in the fourth, was big play late in the game.
The 4-1 Screaming Eagles will travel to Northwood next Friday to play the 1-4 Gladiators. Northwood was embarrassed by Rockville on Thursday 62-7.
Top: Seneca Valley's Chris Makanyanka (12) chases Sherwood's quartback Nevan Sussman (11) out of the pocket and forces an illegal forward pass which results in a turnover late in Thursday's 27-17 victory.
Next: Seneca Valley's Zack Robinson (5) drops back to pass during Thrusday's win.
Next: Sophomore running back Adrian Feliz-Platt (7) fights for yards during Thursday's game against Sherwood.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.