For the second week in a row, the Magnolia Blue Eagles saw their opponent come from behind in a heartbreaking loss Feb. 6 to the Williamstown Yellow Jackets by a 15-14 score, at Williamstown.
The Blue Eagles got nowhere in their first possession and the Yellow Jackets took over near midfield. A couple of runs got things started and the 'Jackets advanced to the Blue Eagle 35. From here, 'Jacket quarterback Jake Tracewell dropped back and hit - for the first and only touchdown they would score on the night - as the 'jackets took the lead, 7-0 with 8:26 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Eagle offense ventured into Williamstown territory on its next two possessions and both times came up short on fourth down attempts. Drew Keller had given the offense some signs of life by picking up over 75 yards on the ground during the drives.
Kage Rhode carries the ball past a Williamstown defender while Drew Keller looks to block any oncoming competition. (Photo by Cris Jenkins)
It looked like the 'jackets were on the move again when they connected on a 36-yard pass play. However, the Big Blue defense stood tall and forced another punt.
The Blue Eagles picked up a first down after three successful running plays and, just like last week, used them to set up a big strike through the air.
Quarterback Jacob Brill dropped back and hit Eric Smith for a 59-yard touchdown pass. It was the first pass completion for the Blue Eagles, but more importantly, it tied the game at 7 after Oscar Celedon's extra point kick. That is where the score remained into halftime.
Keller started the second half with a couple of more nice runs and it looked like the Big Blue was seizing control of the game. The drive came to an abrupt end, however, as the Yellow Jackets pounced on a Blue Eagle fumble in their own end. After another big pass, the 'Jackets got quickly into Magnolia territory.
The drive would eventually stall inside the Blue Eagle 10 yard line, when Williamstown kicked the first good field goal in the game from 25 yards away and the 'Jackets took the lead, 10-7.
Magnolia was able to answer right back. Keller picked up a first down with a big run, whereupon Brill hit Smith on a 41-yard pitch-and-catch to set them up in 'Jacket territory. Another Keller run picked up a first down to the 27 yard line. From there, Keller took the handoff and raced into the end zone to put the Blue Eagles up 14-10 with 1:21 to go in the third period.
A succession defensive stands by both teams made it seem like the score was going to remain the same when the 'Jackets elected to punt rather than attempt a fourth down play, pinning the Blue Eagles deep in their own end. After a couple short runs and three big penalties, the Blue Eagles were in deep.
One of the biggest jobs a head coach has is to make decisions and MHS Coach Mark Batton had a huge one here. Faced with a fourth and long in the shadow of their own goal line and leading 14-10, the Blue Eagles had two choices; punt and take the risk of having it blocked or give up the safety for better field position. Neither choice had a distinct advantage over the other as both carried risk and reward.
Batton had punter Eric Smith step out of the end zone, thus awarding the two-point safety to the 'Jackets. It then gave the Blue Eagles a chance to kick from their 20 and make Williamstown have to travel further to get the game winning score. However, it meant the 'Jackets would only need a field goal rather than a touchdown to retake the lead.
Starting at the 42 with only 1:39 on the clock, Williamstown's quarterback was able to connect with a receiver three times and get the ball deep into Magnolia territory. 'Jacket Coach Terry Smith didn't want to risk it any further and sent his kicker in for the winning field goal - a 26 yard kick that went through the uprights with 0:30 on the clock and the 'Jackets had secured the win, 15-14.
Drew Keller toted the pigskin 24 times for a whopping 187 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort. Something has to give next week as the Blue Eagles will take on the Tyler Consolidated Knights. Both teams have started out the season 0-2. Game time is 7 p.m.