By Vin Ebenau - Shore Sports Network Contributor

LAKEWOOD — What looked like a defensive showdown early on turned into an offensive attack for the fifth-seeded Seneca Golden Eagles as they flew past the fourth-seeded Lakewood Piners for a first round upset in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III playoffs on Saturday afternoon. Seneca advances to meet top-seeded Delsea in the semifinals.

Sam Pawlikowski had a banner day under windy conditions in Lakewood as he carried the ball 26 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns to propel his team to victory. Meanwhile, teammate Sam Jordan ran the ball 14 times for 86 yards and scored the other touchdown for the Golden Eagles.

The Golden Eagles and Piners both struggled offensively in the first half with the pass rushes getting the better of play. After three combined possessions ended in punts, the Golden Eagles ceased the trend when Pawlikowski scored the first of his three touchdowns on the day from five yards out with 1:39 left in the first quarter to give Seneca a 7-0 lead.

From that point until halftime both teams punted on their next two possessions before Lakewood sophomore quarterback Zyhier Jones fumbled the ball on the next possession for the Piners. With little time on the clock the Golden Eagles took a knee and settled for a 7-0 lead at the break.

The second half kickoff went to Seneca, which engineered a 14-play, 62-yard drive that chewed up 6:34 and put the Eagles up 13-0. Jordan ran the ball through a hole made in the A-gap for a two-yard touchdown with 5:26 left in the third quarter.

After a Lakewood three-and-out where the Piners lost standout senior Amir Tyler for the game with an apparent leg injury, the Golden Eagles took flight. Pawlikowski ran the ball in from 12 yards out with 15.1 seconds left in the third quarter to give Seneca a 20-0 lead after making the PAT attempt.

On the fifth play of the ensuing possession for Lakewood, Jones was intercepted by Kevin Gsell, who ran the ball back from the 1-yard line to near midfield.

The Golden Eagles then drove down the field for the score as Pawlikowski put the finishing touches on a big day with a six-yard touchdown run with 8:14 left in the game. The extra point put Seneca up 27-0.

Lakewood scored its lone touchdown of the day when the Piners began running the hurry-up offense late in the game. Jones hit Adiam Palmer with a 34-yard laser down the visiting sideline for a touchdown to cut Seneca’s lead to 27-6.

Lakewood (6-3) will conclude its season on Thanksgiving against Toms River South.