Cassville, MO -- In one of the program's biggest wins in recent years, Seneca took down Cassville 26-7. It marked the first time since 2006 that the Indians had defeated the Wildcats.
Both Cassville and Seneca entered play Friday night with 1-2 records, both teams desperate to get back to .500.
After a slow start, Cassville brought the home crowd to its feet with the first score of the game. Quarterback Gabe Kirk lofted a ball perfectly downfield for Hayden Prater. The running back did the rest, putting the Wildcats on top 7-0, for the first Cassville lead in two weeks.
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The lead would be short-lived. Early in the second quarter Seneca tied the game on a short touchdown plunge from Braxton Graham.
The contest would remain tied until late 2nd quarter. In perhaps the play of the game, Seneca quarterback Payton Rawlins found Dalan Merriman for a touchdown with under thirty seconds to play in the half. The TDcame on 4th down, no less, and sent the Indians into the half with a 14-7 lead and all the momentum.
With the lead, the Indians went into "ground and pound" mode in the second half. A workman like, time consuming drive on their first possession of the third quarter was capped off by a second Braxton Graham touchdown. After a missed extra point, the Indians led 20-6. "That was the challenge at halftime," said Seneca head coach Dan Schieble. "We didn't talk X's and O's. It was about attitude and about effort. It was about the ability to run the football when they knew we were going to run the football."
The Cassville offense needed to respond, and fast. Led by Prater and Kirk, the Wildcats drove the ball into the red-zone, but the "bend-but-don't-break defense of Seneca would hold. Cassville eventually turned the ball over on downs.
Not only was the Wildcat offense struggling to score points, they were also struggling to stay healthy. Starting quarterback Gabe Kirk and second string QB Ty Craig were both knocked out of the ballgame in the second half.
With everything going their way, the Indians dealt the knockout blow in the fourth quarter. Running to his left, Graham broke free for his third and final touchdown of the evening; putting the finishing touches on a 26-7 Seneca victory.
"It means a lot," said running back Braxton Graham. "We worked really hard all summer and they're definitely been a big target for us. It means a lot."
"It's just a big win for our football program, and the city of Seneca, and our school," Schieble added.
With the win, the Indians move their record to 2-2. They play the second of three straight road games next week as they travel to McDonald County. On the other side, Cassville drops to 1-3, and it gets no easier next week. The Wildcats will play on the road at red hot Carl Junction.