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FOOTBALL: Seneca knocks off Lamar in showdown of undefeated powers

Matt Resnick

In a heavyweight clash featuring two of the state’s top-ranked teams, the Seneca Indians landed a knockout blow in Friday night’s 28-14 triumph over the host Lamar Tigers. 

Entering the contest as the No. 3 ranked team in Class 3, Seneca (4-0) had yet to yield a point on the season, outscoring its opponents by a combined 143-0. Lamar (3-1), the No. 1 ranked team in Class 2, broke through on the Indians’ vaunted defense on the game’s opening drive.

Facing a third and 18, junior signal-caller Cooper Haun connected with speedy wideout Ian Ngugi for a 25-yard touchdown strike and a quick 7-0 lead. 

The Indians replied with a methodical 10-play, 80-yard drive, capped by Morgan Vaughn’s 6-yard touchdown reception. Vaughn also punched in the 2-point play, handing the Indians an 8-7 advantage. 

The first half was mostly a defensive slugfest, accentuated by sophomore defensive back Brodie Probert’s 62-yard pick-six — staking the Indians to a 14-7 halftime advantage. 

Seneca quickly set the tone in the second half, picking up a pair of fourth-down conversions as it marched downfield. While Ethan Altic’s playmaking abilities have been on full display this season, it was fellow wideout Blake Skelton who out-leaped double coverage for a spectacular 35-year touchdown reception. A failed 2-point play left the Indians with a 20-7 lead at the concussion of the third quarter. 

Quickly back in possession, Seneca quarterback Gavyn Hoover linked up with Altic for a 40-yard completion deep in Lamar territory. Facing a 4th-and-goal from the 3, Hoover rolled to his left and lofted a perfectly placed pass to Altic for a 3-yard touchdown grab. Hoover then dropped back on the 2-point play and found Hagen Ginger in the back corner of the end zone, as the Indians seized a 28-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. 

Lamar entered the contest averaging 40 points per game but looked overmatched against the Indians’ suffocating defense. While Seneca dominated the trenches, its secondary was also lights out — with Probert coming up with his second interception of Haun, snuffing out a fourth quarter drive. After scoring on its opening possession, Lamar didn’t find paydirt again until late in the fourth quarter. 

To tell it like Lamar head coach Jared Beshore, limiting explosive plays was of paramount importance. But a cascade of highlight-reel plays ultimately doomed his squad. 

“Are we going to be able to prevent or limit big plays?” Beshore told SoMo Sports prior to kickoff. “Seneca knows how to get the ball into the hands of its playmakers.” 

Beshore also said that the Tigers had steadily been gaining confidence after “ups and downs” to begin the season. 

“We had a tough game against Logan-Rogersville, but I think we learned a lot without losing that game,” he said of the 34-14 victory in Week 2. “We’ve been more physical the past few weeks and have been playing more confidently — and I think we’re a better football team than we were in Week 1.” 

The Tigers defense did limit Hoover to just 15 passing yards in the first half, but the standout signal-caller finished the contest with 135 yards through the air. Skelton, meanwhile, finished with five receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. 



While Seneca and Lamar are Big 8 foes, there will not be a rematch because they’re in different classes. The juggernaut Indians host winless Monett next Friday, while Lamar travels to East Newton.



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