Knights hang tough, but Scarabino and unbeaten Seneca prove too much

Eisenhower’s Jaydon Hayes finds some running room during the first quarter of Friday’s game against Seneca. Hayes led the Knights with 96 yards on the ground.

Unbeaten Seneca was looking for revenge on Eisenhower after the Knights went on the road and knocked them off in the final moments last season.

Junior standout Joey Scarabino made sure that happened, rushing for two scores, throwing for another and coming up with a monumental fumble return for a touchdown right before halftime to lead the Bobcats (6-0 overall, 3-0 Region 3) to a 33-13 win at the Pasture of Pain on Friday.

“They got a couple of big plays and were able to make some things happen,” said Eisenhower coach Jim Penley.

“They’re a really good team. Number one (Scarabino) is a really good ball player. They’re a scrappy team and undefeated for a reason and I felt like, honestly, we played one of our better games tonight.”

The Knights (1-5, 1-3) stopped Scarabino and the Bobcats’ offense on downs at the 35-yard line with just 17 seconds left in the half and looked as if they would go into the locker room trailing just 13-7.

Eisenhower's cheerleaders welcome their Knights before Friday's game against Seneca.

But Scarabino was able to get a hand in on Hayes, who had some open running room down the left sideline, pop the ball loose right to himself and race 35 yards for the score to make it 20-7 with just six seconds left in the half.

It was a shot in the arm for the Bobcats and a tough blow for the Knights.

“It’s 13-7 right before the half and you get a freak fumble like that,” Penley said. “But like I said, I’m terribly proud of how we played. If number one (Scarabino) doesn’t make that play, Jay (Hayes) might be gone.”

The Knights actually turned over Scarabino, with Joey Bauer forcing a fumble and Matt Huling recovering at the Seneca 19 just two minutes into the game.

The Bobcats’ defense stood tall, however, and turned Ike over on downs.

Scarabino followed that by directing a 9-play, 79-yard drive that culminated in a 26-yard touchdown pass to Mike Shearer to get Seneca on the board late in the first quarter.

Ike immediately responded, as runs of 21 yards by Jonah Samuelson and 34 from Hayes set them up with first-and-goal at the five. Hayes punched it in from there and Ross Venman’s extra point made it 7-6 Knights less than a minute into the second quarter.

Seneca bounced right back, with the 6-3-220 pound Scarabino showing off his arm with completions of 17 yards to Tre Thrower and 20 to Brandon Foley, setting up a first-and-goal from the nine, where he called his own number and found the endzone.

The fumble return to end the half may have temporarily taken the wind out of Ike’s sails going into halftime, but they didn’t use it as a deterrent.

They forced a Seneca punt to open the half and a 28-yard run by Hayes helped get them down to the Bobcats’ 18 on the ensuing drive.

They went backward from there, however and came away without points.

Scarabino truly did it all, as he tossed a 54-yard bomb to Thrower on the next drive and made a diving catch inside the five, turning receiver on a gadget play that saw Foley throwing the ball.

Thrower capped the 86-yard drive with a 2-yard run to make it 26-13 with 26 seconds left in the third.

Samuelson turned the momentum in the Knights favor in mere seconds, showing off his state-class speed with a 66-yard kickoff return for touchdown to cut the lead in half, 26-13.

“Anyone who was here knows we were within two scores the whole game until we got in the fourth and they got that one touchdown on us,” noted Penley. “We had a couple of plays we didn’t make – a couple of wide open receivers missed and a couple routes we didn’t run right and a couple of plays where we got tackled by the last guy.”

Scarabino capped his brilliant night on the drive following Samuelson’s touchdown, completing a 17-yard pass to Shearer, than running for 35 yards to set up first-and-goal from the five, where he took it in to make it 33-13.

He finished with 153 yards passing, 94 yards rushing, 31 receiving and the fumble return.

Hayes led Ike on the ground with 96 yards.

“We had some guys banged up – when you can’t have a (Justin) Hagberg going both ways, that hurts a little bit,” noted Penley. “We were able to use him a little big at fullback to block for Jay, which was nice. I’m just unbelievably proud of how they played.”

The Knights look to get back in the win column next week when they host Maplewood. Seneca will look to go to 7-0 when they host North East.

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By Quarters

Seneca 6 14 6 7 – 33

Eisenhower 0 7 6 0 – 13

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Scoring Summary

First Quarter

S – Mike Shearer 43 pass from Joey Scarabino (PAT failed) 2:24

Second Quarter

E – Jaydon Hayes 5 run (Ross Venman PAT) 11:15

S – Scarabino 9 run (Andy Rzepka PAT) 8:33

S – Scarabino 35 fumble return (Rzepka PAT) :6

Third Quarter

S – Tre Thrower 2 run (PAT failed) :32

E – Jonah Samuelson 66 kickoff return (PAT failed) :20

Fourth Quarter

S – Scarabino 5 run (Rzepka PAT) 11:14

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Team Stats



First Downs 17 7

Rushes-Yards 31-124 26-111

Comp-Att-Int 10-15-0 3-7-1

Passing Yards 184 17

Total Yards 308 128

Punts 2-31.0 3-31.0

Fumbles 1-1 3-1

Penalties-Yards4-38 7-45

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Individual Stats


Seneca: Scarabino 16-94, Thrower 10-36, Cole 2-(minus)1, Team 3-(minus)5; Eisenhower: Hayes 13-96, Chambers 4-10, Samuelson 5-10, Head 3-(minus)11, Team 1-(minus)4


Seneca: Scarabino 9-of-14, 153 yards, 1 TD; Foley 1-of-1, 13 yards; Eisenhower: Head 3-of-7, 17 yards, 1 INT


Seneca: Thrower 3-69, Shearer 5-64, Scarabino 1-31, Foley 1-20