WEST VIEW — Football is often referred to as the ultimate team game.
Friday night, Mack Leftwich proved to be the ultimate team player.
The North Allegheny senior quarterback had a hand in all seven of his team’s touchdowns as the Tigers defeated Seneca Valley 47-17 in a WPIAL Quad A semifinal at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium.
Leftwich threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for two other scores.
“He’s the center of our offense,” said Tigers coach Art Walker Jr. “Everything starts with him.”
Indeed, Leftwich started the game in style.
Following a 5-yard substitution penalty on Seneca Valley, prior to the first play from scrimmage, Leftwich’s arm delivered its first blow to the Raiders’ WPIAL title hopes. He hit Elijah Zeise down the left sideline with a 64-yard bomb, giving NA a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game.
“After the penalty, we saw the (man-to-man) coverage,” said Walker. “It was the perfect opportunity to take a shot and we did.”
The Raiders answered with Chad Izenas’ 24-yard field goal late in the first period, but Leftwich threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter and ran for another to put the Tigers up 33-3.
Though SV’s offense improved over its efforts against the Tigers in a 45-3 loss Sept. 14, the Raiders were held to a trio of three-and-outs in the first half.
“Our defense did a great job,” said Walker. “Seneca Valley has a tough offense to prepare for with the no-huddle.”
“It seems we couldn’t have dug ourselves a bigger hole,” said Seneca Valley coach Don Holl. “(Leftwich) is a heck of a quarterback and he made a lot of big plays.”
Seneca Valley’s Jordan Brown gave the Raiders a spark before halftime with as 57-yard scoring run and he hit Jon Dorogy with a 4-yard scoring toss late in the third period to cut NA’s lead to 33-17.
But NA (12-0) responded with an 11-play, 59-yard drive, capped by Leftwich’s 8-yard touchdown run that pushed the Tigers’ lead back to three scores.
Leading 40-17 with under two minutes to play, North Allegheny elected to throw the ball on a fourth-and-goal from the SV 6, resulting in Leftwich’s fifth touchdown pass of the game.
“You’re up 23 points late in the game and you throw a pass in the end zone on a fourth-down play?” said Holl. “Any coach I respect would have kneeled on the ball or handed it off to a fullback.”
“It was fourth down and we had a decision to make,” said Walker. “We didn’t want to kick a field goal and have a chance of it getting blocked and returned. We wanted to go with something we were comfortable with. It was a decision made by our entire staff.”
SV finished the season 10-2, with both defeats coming against NA.
“I’m bitterly disappointed for our kids,” said Holl. “They did some great things this year and raised the bar. It’s just sad to see it end.”