The Magnolia Blue Eagles put up 17 first-half points and held on to defeat Wheeling Central 17-13 at New Martinsville's Alumni Field Friday night.
After both teams felt each other out on opening drives, Magnolia would get a break when Jake Brill recovered a fumble at the Maroon Knight 42 yard line. Nice runs by Drew Keller and Kage Rohde moved the chains, but after a nice defensive stand by Central, the Eagles turned the ball over on downs.
The Big Blue defense held its turf and started its next drive at their own 38 yard line. Rohde churned big yardage just inside Maroon Knight territory. However, after a Magnolia penalty (the first of 13) two plays later, the Eagles tossed the first of two interceptions and the Knights would make it count with a 46-yard pitch-and-catch for the game's first points.
The Eagles would answer on its next drive, as Stephen "Rogo" Rogalski would haul in a Tanner Hanna pass and add to his 26 career TD pass receptions with a 76-yard touchdown bomb. For the equalizer, Clemens Raitmayr made good on a PAT kick.
The Eagles owned the second period. Rohde would come up with the ball on the Knights' second fumble at Central's 36 yard line. After a pair of incomplete passes, Keller picked up minimal yardage and the Eagles would go for it on fourth and nine. It paid off as Hanna teamed with Rogalski on a nice pitch-and-catch all the way down to the Maroon Knight 19 yard line and a new set of downs. Two plays later, Keller pushed it in from five yards to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead.
The Magnolia defense would again hold its own and force another Wheeling punt. However, the Knights would also hold Magnolia. Just before the half, the Eagles' defense gave the offense another gift, when Ryan Walton picked off the Central quarterback. After a nice Hanna-to-Rogalski hookup and a pair of positive runs by Keller and Rohde, the Central defense would force a 31-yard Raitmayr field goal that split the uprights for a 17-7 Magnolia advantage heading into the locker room.
After the second-half kick, Magnolia would start its first series at its own 15 yard line and Keller tacked on a pair of nice positive runs. After the Knights and Eagles traded penalties, Hanna would give up a pick six and Central would close the gap to 17-13.
It appeared the Eagles would hand the game to the Knights when they fumbled away the ensuing kickoff.
However, the Big Blue defense would have nothing of it and held the Knights on downs at their own 10 yard line. Central's defense forced the Eagles to punt.
But, this time it was Hanna that would step in front of a Maroon Knight pass for an interception early in the fourth period. While both defenses held strong, the Eagles' defense, led by a Carter Seckman fumble recovery, gave Magnolia new life for three plays.
However, Magnolia turned it over. But, once again, the Eagle defense would hold and get the ball back for a final drive of the night with three minutes remaining in the game.
Keller and Rohde would grind out yard after yard before Keller too the Maroon for a 16-yard run to ice the game.
Rogalski is only 43 yards from breaking the school's all time record for receiving yardage, now held by Kenny Fisher. Rogalski hauled in 101\ yards on four catches. Keller rushed for 77 yards and a TD, while Rohde netted 63 yards. Hanna was 5-13 for 103 yards and two interceptions. Defensively, Brill made 16 tackles and Rohde had 12 stops.
Both the Knights and the Eagles gave the ball away four times, but Magnolia was guilty of 13 penalties for 115 yards of lost real estate. The Knights were flagged for eight infractions for 55 yards lost.
The Eagles will travel to Woodsfield to take on the Seminoles on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.