SENECA – A one-point halftime lead turned into a second straight lopsided loss for Seneca football in a 44-14 Interstate Eight Small setback Friday night against Lisle.
The Fighting Irish (2-3, 1-2) had their second-half drives end in turnovers and three-and-outs – one of which turned into a turnover on downs on a fake punt attempt. Lisle (3-2, 2-1) scored each of the first five times it received the ball in the second half.
At halftime, the Irish had a 205-192 edge in total yards – and Lisle’s total included the 70 yards it tallied against a soft Seneca zone in the waning seconds of the second quarter. In the second half, Lisle outgained the Irish, 127-40.
“What changed from (halftime) was we played a lot better in the defensive line,” Lisle coach Paul Parpet said. “We started tackling a little bit, and then we kinda took control of the game.”
An interception and 38-yard return by Lisle’s Alec Van Volkenburg gave the Lions the ball at the Irish 7 to begin the second half, but they settled for a field goal and a 15-12 lead. The Lions did not start scoring touchdowns – which they would then do on four straight series – until after the ill-fated fake punt, which resulted in a loss of eight yards and possession for Lisle at its 29.
“It’s the momentum thing,” Seneca coach Ted O’Boyle said. “I made a terrible call on somewhat of a fake punt sort of thing that we have in. Turned the momentum around. That was a terrible call, and we didn’t get [the momentum] back. Pretty plain and simple on that. We made some boneheaded plays on special teams, and when you do that, it leads to a debacle of a second half.”
Lisle capitalized on the play with a 2-yard Michael Metoyer touchdown run. It used a 26-yard touchdown pass from Mark McGrath to Nick Massura, a 5-yard Massura touchdown plunge and a 65-yard McGrath punt return for a touchdown to blow the game open from there. The Irish got their only first down of the second half after all of the scoring was completed.
Seneca, which was coming off a 53-0 loss at Herscher, got off to a promising start. Its defense forced a three-and-out, and on its first play from scrimmage, Logan Pifer hit a wide-open Mason Mitchell for a 91-yard touchdown on a halfback pass.
Lisle scored on its next drive and again early in the second quarter to take a 13-7 lead, but a 49-yard Hunter Simon run set up a Pifer 3-yard touchdown run with 6:41 left before halftime. The Irish then drove deep into Lisle territory late in the half, only to turn the ball over on downs. They would not cross midfield again.