For the second consecutive week, a Lawrence County High School football game became insignificant.
South Fayette defeated New Castle, 36-0, last night. But it was a play early in the third quarter that made the game and its result secondary.
Red Hurricane senior Matt Senchak was injured making a tackle on a passing play at the South Fayette 38-yard line with 9:39 remaining in the third quarter.
The New Castle linebacker lay motionless on the Taggart Stadium turf as he was attended by medical staff from both teams. He was taken by ambulance to UPMC Jameson Hospital.
“I didn’t see the play, but just from reports from our guys, it was a helmet-to-helmet hit, and I think he was unconscious when he got hit,” New Castle coach Joe Cowart said. “He violently went to the ground and he got hit again by a couple other bodies while he was down. That’s the reason he was knocked out for a prolonged period of time.”
Despite the scary injury, Cowart had some positive news about Senchak following the game.
“He’s moving his extremities,” the ‘Canes coach said. “He’s moving his hands, feet, arms. He’s awake, which he wasn’t on the field. It’s probably the scariest thing I’ve witnessed with my eyes. He was out for a long time on the field. On the field, he was awake, then he was out of it, then he was awake, then he was out of it. They’re going to run some tests overnight at the hospital. But the initial reports are great news that he has full movement in all of his extremities.”
The game was delayed nearly a half hour waiting for a backup ambulance to be brought to the stadium.
Senchak’s injury came a week after Laurel’s Hayden Hamilton broke a vertebra in his neck in a game against Rochester.
Ironically, New Castle players wore green HH stickers on their helmets, there were “26 strong” signs and T-shirts throughout Taggart Stadium and the New Castle community collected money toward Hamilton’s recovery fund at last night’s game.
“It’s one of those scenarios where luckily and God willing we’re not in very often,” Cowart said. “Unfortunately it’s happened two weeks in a row around here. I think everybody’s minds on both teams were in a different place than finishing a football game.”
The game itself was dominated by the Lions (2-0 Northwest Eight Conference, 2-1 overall).
South Fayette held a 446-100 edge in total offense and had 21 first downs to just five for the ‘Canes.
“They do everything well,” Cowart said of South Fayette. “They play very fast. They have dynamic athletes. The timing of their passing game is so efficient. It’s rare at the high school level to see timing like they have. Everything’s so smooth and crisp.
“We were certainly outplayed, outcoached and outclassed tonight. We’ve got a long way to go to get better.”
The Lions grabbed a 10-0 lead after one quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Drew Franklin and a 30-yard field goal by Ryan Coe.
The margin grew to 26-0 at the half as RayQuin Glover scored on a 29-yard run, the Lions blocked a punt out of the end zone and Jaime Diven connected with Mike Trimbur on a 54-yard TD pass.
Diven and Trimbur hooked up again on a 36-yard scoring strike in the third quarter, and Coe closed out the scoring early in the fourth quarter with a 36-yard field goal.
The ‘Canes also lost starting quarterback Donovan Crockett to an injured ankle in the first half.
“He’s got an ankle injury that happened (Thursday) in practice,” Cowart said.
“He tried to go tonight, but it swelled up pretty good. He’s got a sprain and we’ll do some further testing to see what’s going on with that.”
New Castle (1-1, 1-2) will travel to Beaver on Friday.
“There are no easy games in our league,” Cowart said.
“Beaver’s a quality football team. We’ll have to play our absolute best game to win. We’re a ways away from where we want to be, but that’s the beauty of football. We get another Friday next week. We’ll certainly have to regroup after Matt’s injury and really play for him.”