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Eagles Steal One From Pilots

By Staff | Sep 22, 2011

The Eagles’ Jayson Keller scored two touchdowns and accumulated 182 rushing and receiving yards in helping the Magnolia Blue Eagles sink the River Pilots, 17-0, Sept. 16 at Alumni Field.

The Pilots won the toss and elected to receive, but the Magnolia defense forced a three-and-out and the Pilots punted on their first offensive series to start the game. However, a short Pilot punt had the Eagles offense in prime location to make some noise at the Pilots 38 yard line.

On the Eagles second play from scrimmage, Keller had the Eagles inside the Pilot 25 yard line with a nice run. The Eagles advanced the ball to the five yard line off a nice Stephen Rogalski end around, and a Tanner Hanna quarterback keeper. However, the Pilots defense rose to the occasion and stopped a Keller run and a Rogalski end around to force Magnolia to try a Michael Jones 26 yard field goal. He split the uprights and Magnolia used the field position to get on the Alumni scoreboard first with a three-point lead.

Magnolia’s Tyler Blizzard made a nice defensive sop on the kickoff and the Pilots started their next drive at their own 30 yard line. The Pilots’ Nick Asturi took a Cody Caldwell handoff and scooted by a host of would-be Eagle tacklers for a 47-yard run. if it wasn’t for Rogalski, Asturi would have continued on his quest for a TD. But, Magnolia stopped the Pilots and took over the ball on downs.

A Hanna-to-Rogalski completion and a Keller 10 yard gainer gave the hosts a couple more first downs. But, some nice defensive plays by Asturi and Jordan Sapp forced a Bentley Knight punt, which was downed by Rogalski at the one yard line.

Caldwell connected with Bryce Cross on a nice 31 yard pitch-and-catch that got them out of a hole. Kage Rohde rocked the Pilot ball carrier and caused a fumble that Drew Keller recovered at the Pilot 25 yard line.

River’s defense would force a four-and-out to get the Pilots out of a bad situation. The Blue Eagle defense also held, forcing River to punt with just a little under three minutes remaining in the first half.

Keller got the Eagle offense a couple first downs and capped off the drive by a 12-yard TD right before the break. After the Jones PAT kick, the Eagles were clinging to a 10-0 lead. The Pilots moved the ball quickly down the field and were just short on a field goal attempt as the teams headed to the break.

In the second half, a couple of nice runs by Keller had the Eagles at midfield. He would later scamper into the endzone, but a holding call wiped it away. The Eagles would move the chains once more, but the Pilot defense would hold Magnolia on downs and get out of another pickle.

Caldwell connected with Asturi and Kameron Brown on a pair of nice throws. The Magnolia defense bent, but didn’t break, to for another River punt.

However, the Pilot defense also was up to the task and forced the Blue to punt.

Once again, the Pilots went to the air and Caldwell connected on a nice gainer that he would tuck and scramble for another first down. But, the Eagle defense, led by Jared Wright and Brandon Clegg, forced the Pilots to give up the ball once more.

The Pilots went for it on fourth down and connected on a nice gainer to keep the drive moving. Wright and Clegg came up big once more and this time the Pilots punted to start the final period of play, with the Eagles clinging to a 10-0 lead.

The punt went into the end zone and Magnolia started its next drive from its own 20 yard line. The combination Hanna To Rogalski and a pair of long gainers by Keller had the Blue Eagles knocking at the door.

Hanna got a first down on a keeper inside the Pilot 15 yard line, with 4:30 left in regulation. A Hanna to Keller pass had Magnolia inside the Pilot five yard line. Two minutes later, Keller waltzed in for a 17-0 lead after the PAT by Jones.

River’s Logan Lucas replaced Caldwell at quarterback late in the fourth period and tossed two interceptions, both to Rogalski, with the latter one coming late in the game on a fourth and long.

The Pilots ended the night with 47 yards rushing on 21 carries, and were 7-17 in the air for 118 yards. Asturi had 65 yards on seven carries, but negative yardage by a host of Pilots and four quarterback sacks limited them to only the 47 yards rushing. Asturi caught two passes for 31 yards, Cross grabbed one for 29 yards and Jonathan Stewart also brought in one for 12 yards. Brown snagged two for 39 yards and Austin McConn caught one pass for one yard.

For the Eagles, Jayson Keller had 133 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, while Hanna, Rohde and Rogalski accounted for 14 yards. Rogalski and Keller caught seven and eight passes, respectively, for 123 yards. Keller is now only two touchdowns away from becoming the Eagles’ all-time leading touchdown leader. He is currently second with 26 touchdowns, right behind Derek Cisar with 27 touchdowns.

Magnolia moved the chains 16 times, while the Pilots garnered seven first downs. The Pilots lost the ball twice on fumbles and twice on interceptions.

The Pilots host Caldwell at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, while the Eagles will have a week off to prepare for a homecoming contest against Monroe Central on Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m.