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A stingy defense was a major factor in the regular season for Lackawanna High School’s football team, which held five of seven opponents to one touchdown or less. The domination has continued in the postseason.

The top-seeded Steelers held No. 8-seed Pioneer to just 80 total yards and posted their third straight shutout with a 32-0 win in a Class B Section VI quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon at Veterans Stadium.
“We pride ourselves on defense,” senior running back/defensive back Khalil Horton said. “We didn’t want them to score. We want to play at a fast pace. We have a lot of good athletes and we’re all flying to the ball.”

The win sends Lackawanna (7-1) to the sectional semifinals for the second straight season. The Steelers will host Maryvale (7-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday back at Veterans Stadium in what is expected to be one of the marquee matchups of the weekend. The Flyers rallied for an 18-15 win over Newfane in their quarterfinal on Friday.

“We’re going to celebrate this win right now and then get to the film,” Lackawanna quarterback Noble Smith said. “Having two home playoff games, that feels good. But can still improve on a lot of things, passing, blocking, running … everything. We’re never satisfied, we can always get better.”

Pioneer (5-3) entered the postseason on a four-game winning streak and made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. But the Panthers got the tough test they expected from Lackawanna.

“We knew that it was going to be really hard,” Pioneer coach Jim Duprey said. “That’s the way it happens. We’re proud we got into the playoffs and hopefully we can build on this. We told the kids not to hang their heads. There are a lot of positives on the season.”

Lackawanna was a No. 8-seed a year ago and upset Medina in the first round. The Steelers were determined to make sure they weren’t on the wrong side of such a scenario this season. Smith scored on runs of 4 and 1 yards on Lackawanna’s first two drives and then Jakron Ingram returned a fumble for another Steelers’ TD.

Horton put the game away on the first drive of the third quarter with an electrifying 70-yard touchdown run. Smith added a 6-yard TD run on a fourth-down play to complete the scoring.

“We knew it was going to be a run-heavy game, going to a quick game,” Smith said. “SO we came out and did what we had to do. We just wanted to come out and get a win. We didn’t care how many points we won by we just wanted to dominate.

Horton ran for 158 yards and a touchdown on offense and had an interception on defense. He returned it for a TD but there was an illegal block on the return. Smith ran for 63 yards and three TDs.