Blue Eagles Block Field Goal, Stave Off Pilots
Joey Flannery and Broc Cross accounted for 152 yards and a touchdown on 11 completions for the River Pilots. But it wasn’t enough to get past the Magnolia Blue Eagles 20-17 Sept. 19 on Flannery Field.
After receiving the opening kick, Magnolia got a first down on a Brooks Parsons’ end around. However, the Pilot defense stood tall and forced the Eagles to punt. After the Magnolia defense took the Pilots to a three and out, things started to get interesting.
Cross hijacked a Nick Priem pass and would later gain a first down. But, Flannery would get picked off by Todd LeMasters, who returned it 15 yards, setting up the Blue Eagle offense for a golden opportunity.
Priem handed it off to the combination of Tyler Anderson and later to Chase Street for positive yardage. Anderson then scampered nine yards for the game’s first score to claim a 6-0 lead in the opening stanza, with 4:27 left in the first period.
River took the ensuing kick to the 40 yard line. After two short gains, Flannery escaped the grasp of a pair of Blue Eagle defenders for a first down. Cross then added a first down catch from Flannery, who juked and jived himself out of a sack for another first down.
In the second period, the Pilots’ Cole Isaly would later pick up a first down from a Wildcat formation and was knocking at the door once more with a first and goal at the Eagles’ nine yard line. Flannery would once again run for his life, but this time, he spotted a wide-open Cross alone in the back of the end zone for the equalizer. Colton Wright nailed the PAT and the Pilots took the lead at 7-6 with 11:04 left in the first half.
After holding the Eagles to a three-and-out, the Pilots would go 70 yards on six plays that included a 40-yard pitch-and-catch to Cross, and a 19-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Craig Hupp to give the hosts a 14-6 advantage with 7:35 showing until intermission.
Anderson would bring back the ensuing kick to midfield on a 25-yard return. He would gain double-digit yardage, but a block in the back nullified the run. However, Parsons again gained big yardage on another end-around, setting up a Priem one-yard plunge for the score. Anderson would catch Priem’s conversion pass to knot the game at 14.
The Eagle defense held the Pilots to a three-and-out and Anderson returned the punt 10 yards to their own 29 yard line. Anderson picked up three double-digit runs, while Priem scrambled for 20 yards that set up an Anderson five-yard touchdown run to give Magnolia a 20-14 advantage at the break.
Midway through the third period, the Pilots marched down the field with nice catches by Hupp, Cross, and Dakota Smith, aided by a Loren Thomas scamper down to the Eagle 20 yard line. Magnolia’s defense would hold the Pilots to a 25-yard Wright field goal to close the gap to 20-17 with 7:11 showing in period three.
Neither team threatened until the Pilots’ last possession late in the fourth period. With only a chip-shot attempt for the Pilots’ Wright to tie the game on a 21-yard field goal try, the Eagles’ Anderson and Zach Haught each put their paw on it to thwart the tying field goal attempt and give Magnolia the win.
“It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win,” said Magnolia Head Coach Josh Sims.
River’s Head Coach Mike Flannery added after the game, “The boys left it all on the field tonight. They have faced adversity before. With CJ Honeycutt sidelined in our opener and Kole Isaly absent from the line-up against Monroe Central, they answered the call.”
With the win, Magnolia (2-1) has jumped to the top of the OVAC Class-3A, while the Pilots, at 1-3, plummeted down to seventh.
Flannery paced the Pilots with 285 yards passing and two TDs on 23-45 passes, with Cross hauling in 11 for 152 yards and a touchdown. Hupp snatched six passes for 65 yards and a score. Smith grabbed three footballs for 44 yards, while Cole Isaly snatched two for 15 yards. Braden Whetsell picked up nine yards in the air. On the ground, Thomas gained 38 yards on 11 carries, while Isaly netted two yards on five tries. Flannery scrambled a lot and gained a lot of yards, but three quarterback sacks by Magnolia had him at minus yardage on the night.
For the Eagles, Anderson led the way with 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 21 carries, while Streets netted 33 yards. Parsons gained 44 yards on two totes and Priem picked up 29 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
Through the air, Priem was 0-4 with an interception. Defensively for Magnolia, Brandon Mason made 10 solo tackles, while Haught, LeMasters, and Caleb Nice each made eight stops, including numerous tackles for losses and a QB sack. Peau Halahingano, who had a quarterback sack, also had six solo tackles and was in on four assists, while Anderson drilled five Pilot ball carriers.
Defensively for the Pilots, Mason Ladyga made 12 tackles, three for losses, and five solos to lead the Pilot surge. Thomas nailed eight Eagles, while Whetsell and Luke Matusik each dropped eight Magnolia ball carriers, including a couple tackles for lost yardage.
Cross hauled down five Blue Eagles and made an interception. The Pilots’ top defense tacklers made seven stops for loss of yards, with 24 solo tackles. The Blue Eagles made 24 solos with three quarterback sacks and double-digit tackles with losses of yardage.
The Pilots head to Paden City Sept. 26 and Magnolia will host Wheeling Central, with both games scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
During halftime of the Central game, Magnolia will honor members of the 1964 State Championship Football Team and their coaches.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the state championship and a public reception will follow the game in the Commons area of the high school. Everyone is invited to come and meet and greet team members and their coaches.
Also being recognized are the members of the New Martinsville youth football squads. They will be introduced following the 1964 team.