Magnolia and Tyler Consolidated both came into Friday night's contest with 0-2 records and a hunger to get that first win of the year and get their seasons going in the right direction before it was too late.
It took the Blue Eagles exactly 1:57 minutes to get turned in that direction when Jacob Brill hit Eric Smith on a 20-yard touchdown pass to cap their opening drive and lead the Blue Eagles to a convincing 40-7 victory.
The defense and the rushing game were two key components as Blue Eagles out-rushed the Knights 293-94.
Drew Keller has a determined look on his face as he runs the ball during the Magnolia-Tyler Consolidated game. (Photo by Cris Jenkins)
After a three-and-out in the Knights' first possession, Magnolia mounted an impressive 12-play, 78-yard drive for the Eagle's second score of the night. Drew Keller picked up more than half the yards on four carries and Brill punched it in on a two-yard quarterback keeper. The PAT was missed and the Blue Eagles had a 13-0 lead.
The next couple minutes proved to be the most exciting of the night. On a third and long, Silver Knight quarterback Jordan Baker dropped back and was sacked by Kyle Ritz, who dislodged the football and recovered it himself on the Tyler Consolidated 29.
It took Drew Keller only two rushes to cross pay dirt and expand the Blue Eagle lead to 19-0 after an attempted two point conversion failed. With only ten seconds left in the period, it appeared that the score would hold up into the second quarter, but Jacob Highley had different plans.
On Consolidated's first play after the kickoff, Highley shot through the left side of the offensive line, broke a couple tackles and rumbled 68 yards for the Tyler's only touchdown of the evening, bringing the score to 19-7 after one period of play. This run lifted the Knight defense, as they held the Blue Eagles to their first three and out situation. Brill put Tyler back deep in their own end with a booming 57-yard punt.
Special team play came up big again for the Blue Eagles as the Knights were held and Andrew Smith was able to bring the ensuing punt all the way back to the Consolidated 15.
Magnolia's Yale Wetzel took the handoff on the second play and fought his way in for a seven-yard touchdown run. Oscar Celedon and the field goal team got things back on track with the PAT and the Blue Eagle lead swelled to 26-7.
After another defensive stand, the Blue Eagles got the ball back and went to the ground for their final score of the half. Kage Rohde followed up a 23-yard run with a 40-yard touchdown burst to become the fifth different Blue Eagle to score in the first half.
Head Football Coach Mark Batton sensed he had the game well in hand at this point and kept his top offensive weapons on the sideline the entire second half. The only scoring came when Grant Cain picked off a pass at the Knight 28, reversed field and returned it all the way for the game's final score in the 40-7 Magnolia victory.
Keller finished the game with 101 yards on just 10 carries, while Rohde took just six handoffs and picked up 92 yards. Highley led the Knights with 92 yards on the ground.
The Blue Eagles come back home this week when they take on cross-river rival River at Alumni Field.