Blue Eagles Humble Yellow Jackets, 37-7
Magnolia’s Drew Keller became the school’s first player to run for 3,000 yards in a career Nov. 23, when the visiting Blue Eagles defeated Moorefield 37-7 in the second round WVSSAC Class-A football payoffs.
The win moves the Blue Eagles into the semifinals this coming Saturday at 1:30 p.m., where they will face Greenbrier West at Charmco, W.Va., some 45 miles northeast of Beckley.
On Saturday the Eagles won the toss and took the opening kick. Keller picked up about 12 yards on the return and that started a drive at the 30 yard line.
Keller took the snap from quarterback Jacob Brill six straight times to pick up three first downs, with the last one keyed by a crushing block from Brill. Eric Smith then scampered three yards on an end-around, before Keller rushed three more times to pick up the first down.
Brill connected with tight-end Kyle Ritz for a modest gain in yardage and Smith added three more to set up a fourth and six. Brill hit Ritz once more to move the chains. Keller ran twice more before Smith scored on a three-yard end-around, capping off an impressive 14-play, 70-yard drive that took almost eight minutes off the clock and gave Magnolia a 7-0 lead after Oscar Celedon’s true PAT.
After Magnolia’s kick to Moorefield, the Blue Eagles’ heart-and-soul of the defense, Kage Rohde, buried the ‘Jacket ball carrier for a two-yard loss. The Eagles’ defensive interior line made another tackle for loss and forced the Yellow Jackets to punt.
After a modest gain on the punt, Brill picked up five yards before Keller juked-and-jived several ‘Jacket defenders for a 58-yard touchdown that had Magnolia fans on their feet and gave them a 13-0 advantage.
Moorefield finally picked up its initial first down with one minute left of the opening period. The ‘Jackets moved the chains again on a fourth-and-short, but Magnolia’s defense stopped them and forced yet another punt.
It was on the Eagles’ first play of the second period that Keller ran 45 yards to surpass 3,000 yards running and set a new school record.
Smith moved the chains once more on another end-around play, keyed by a back-breaking block from Brill. On the next play, Keller waltzed into the end zone from eight yards out to extend Magnolia’s lead to 20-0 after the Celedon PAT.
Following the ensuing kickoff, Moorefield went to a hurry-up offense and picked up several first downs. Magnolia’s Stephen White and Brandon Clegg co-opted on a sack before the Eagles were called for interference deep in Blue Eagle territory. One play later, the Moorefield quarterback scored on a 10-yard scamper for Moorefield’s only score of the day.
Tyler Anderson fell on an on-side kick from Moorefield at their own 35 yard line with 4:43 left in the opening half. Keller picked up 25 yards on four carries before Smith gained huge yards on an end-around. Keller would get the call twice more, before going the distance on a two-yard touchdown scamper to give the visitors a 27-7 lead.
Moorefield ran the ensuing kick back for nice yardage, but a crushing hit by a Magnolia defender caused the ball carrier to cough up the ball and Jared Kacor recovered for Magnolia.
Keller gained 20 yards, but a holding call against Magnolia brought the ball back and the Eagles would take a knee and go into the locker room up 27-7.
After the second half kick, Moorefield went back to the hurry up offense. However, Ritz would swat away the Moorefield quarterback pass and the Blue Eagle defense forced yet another three-and-out for the ‘Jackets.
To everybody’s surprise, Keller took the opening snap of the quarter and picked up 30 yards. Smith tacked on six more yards and Keller would get the Eagles to the 10 yard line on a first and goal. However, Keller was flagged for a face mask when he stiff-armed a defender trying to haul him down at the three yard line.
The Eagles would end up splitting the up-rights with a Celedon 32-yard field goal off the hold from Todd LeMasters to give the Big Blue a 30-7 advantage early in the third period.
Rohde made a nice tackle for a loss of 10 yards on the ‘Jackets’ first play from scrimmage. The Eagle defense forced another three-and-out and Magnolia took over at the 27 yard line on an Andrew Smith fair catch.
The Eagles finally were stopped and punted with 4:36 left in the third period. Carter Seckman made a tackle for a Moorefield loss of yardage. Then, Magnolia sacked the Yellow Jacket quarterback and quickly got the ball back after another Moorefield punt at midfield.
It didn’t take the Eagles too long to score, as Keller finished a short drive with a seven-yard touchdown run for his 20th TD of the season to give the Gold and Blue a 37-7 lead with three seconds remaining in the third.
Neither team scored in the fourth and Magnolia pulled Keller early in the period after he gained 1,745 yards on the season and 3,201 yards in his career.
Keller ended up with 301 yards rushing and four TDs on 33 carries, while Eric Smith tacked on 60 yards and scored a touchdown. Brill netted 40 yards, while Anderson and Yale Wetzel also added positive yardage.
Brill was 3-3 passing, hitting Ritz twice and Keller once, while Keller tossed one pass that fell incomplete. Magnolia had 19 first downs, while Moorefield gained only seven. The Eagles committed six infractions for 50 lost yards, while Moorefield was flagged twice for a loss of 10 yards.
Magnolia will now face Greenbrier West in the Class-A semifinals this Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The winner of that game will vie for the state championship the following Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium, with a kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.