By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
SENECA, Mo. —
Kaden Schrader returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Seneca’s defense held Mount Vernon to 76 rushing yards Thursday night as Seneca defeated Mount Vernon 25-7 in a Class 3 District first round game.
Seneca, 6-4, will face Cassville, which defeated East Newton 48-6, in the district semifinals Wednesday at Cassville.
Schrader’s 15-yard touchdown return came after the Indians’ defense forced Mount Vernon into a three-and-out.
“It just kind of opened up,” said Schrader, a senior. “It (the ball) was just bouncing in front of me, so I picked it up and took off. There wasn’t anybody within 15 yards of me.”
Seneca went into halftime with a 19-0 lead behind a rushing attack led by Braxton Graham, who had 87 yards on eight carries, and Marty Mailes, who had 64 yards on seven carries. Graham finished with 103 yards and Mailes added 81 yards.
Mount Vernon tailback Shane Williams rushed for 64 yards on 22 carries, blocked a kick on an extra-point attempt after Seneca’s first touchdown and stopped a Seneca drive in the second half with an interception.
The Indians’ first two plays from scrimmage set up their second touchdown. Graham rushed for 30 yards to midfield, then Mailes carried for 39 yards to the Mount Vernon 11.
Seneca took a 13-0 lead three plays later when Jalen Skaggs scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Peyton Rawlings. The Indians added a touchdown midway through the second quarter on a 28-yard pass to Skaggs from Rawlings.
Mount Vernon’s longest drive of the first half ended when Skaggs intercepted a pass in the end zone on a second-and-4 play from the Seneca 13 with 1 minute, 11 seconds left.
“Our main objective then was to run the clock and get in at halftime,” said Seneca head coach Dan Scheible. “That was a great stop by our defense.”
Rawlings completed five of seven passes for 39 yards before he was replaced by Kyler Ng for Seneca’s last possession of the half.
Ng, a senior defensive back, had not taken a snap this season but said he was prepared to play quarterback if needed.
“We weren’t sure on Peyton’s status before the game started,” said Ng, who completed two of four passes for 14 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 33 yards on seven carries, all in the second half.
“It’s a different ball game playing quarterback,” he said. “I was just trying to take care of the ball, get the ball to the right people.”
His touchdown pass capped a 13-play drive that erased nearly eight minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter. After 12 rushing plays in a row, Ng threw a 10-yard scoring pass to Butch Ferguson on third-and-goal from the 10.
“I ran a boot down the left side and had Butch in the flat,” Ng said. “I floated it a little bit. It seemed like the ball hung up for an hour.”
Mount Vernon scored on its first possession of the second half with a 75-yard drive highlighted by a 51-yard completion by freshman quarterback Jacob LaSalle that gave the Mountaineers a first down at the Seneca 18.
On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Devin Morris scored on a 1-yard run off right tackle that cut Seneca’s lead to 19-7.
Mount Vernon, which had lost to Seneca 48-20 in their regular-season matchup, had two first downs during the drive, but had just one the rest of the game.
“That was critical,” Scheible said. “We were so limited offensively at that point, but we were able to so some things when we had to, like the quarterback draw play for 15 yards. We had a couple of toss plays to Marty Mailes, then we throw a touchdown on a boot pass.
“We were able in the second half to play great defense,” he said. “It was the play of our defense that won the football game for us. Our defensive linemen played well. They played a great game.”