Eagles Soar Over Pilots, 44-3
The Magnolia Blue Eagles tied their 1978 record for the biggest margin of victory against the River Pilots Sept. 18, with a 44-3 win at Alumni Field.
River’s Austin McConn returned the opening kick to the 27 yard line. However, the Pilots were unable to sustain the drive and were forced to punt. The Eagles took over on their own 32, when runs by Stingray Bates and Dillon Jackson took the ball to River’s 32 yard line.
At that point, Blue Eagle quarterback Justin Fox hooked up with Derek Fruner, who made a nice diving catch at the Pilot 20 for the Eagles’ third straight first down. Bates would take it to the house from 15 yards out for the Eagles’ opening score. Fox added the point after for a 7-0 Magnolia Blue Eagle lead.
The Pilots fumbled on their next possession at their own 40 yard line. Fox made the Pilots pay when he connected with Fruner for a nice pitch and catch to increase the Blue’s advantage to 14-0 after another successful PAT by Fox with 8:03 still remaining in the opening period.
After another nice run by McConn on the ensuing kick, Pilot signal-caller Cody Caldwell connected with Tyler Jeffers for a first down at the 34. But, that is about all they could accumulate and were forced to punt.
Magnolia’s Brendon Kacor muffed the punt and Jeffers was Johnny-on- the-spot for the take-away. However, again, the Pilots couldn’t get anything going because of the Blue defense and had to punt once more.
Later, Fox connected twice to his favorite receiver, Jared Blatt, and the Eagles were knocking at the door at River’s 26 yard line. The Pilots’ Journey Wayts would introduce himself to Fox by way of a 14 yard sack.
A 12-yard reverse by Fruner gave the Eagles a first down at the 17 yard line.
Fox hooked up with Blatt once more, but this time it was for a 17-yard TD. “What a real target he is,” said MHS Head Coach Mark Batton. “He runs such nice routes and has a nice set of hands.”
Fox missed to the upright and the score stood 20-0 with less then a minute to go in the first quarter of play.
“We knew it was only a mater of time before the Eagles were going to get untracked. They have so many weapons,” said RHS Head Coach Mike Flannery.
The Big Blue defense wouldn’t let the Pilots breathe and forced yet another Pilot punt after the ensuing kickoff.
However, the Pilots’ Sam Ramshier picked off Fox to get the Big Red Machine rolling.
A Magnolia personal foul and an offsides call took the ball to the 37. Caldwell ran for his life to pick up a couple yards and McConn got the rest to move the chains. Another personal foul against the Eagles and two more runs by McConn had the Pilots on the prowl.
But, a River quarterback sack for a nine-yard loss, forced the Pilots to try a 50-yard field goal. Tanner Wright’s kick was off its mark, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Pilots new life at the 18.
The Magnolia defense held tough and forced Wright to kick it again. However this time he split the uprights from 32 yards out to make the score 20-3. That drive took 15 offensive plays, taking about eight minutes off the clock.
After the ensuing kick off, the visitors stopped the powerful Big Blue offense, forcing a Magnolia punt for the first time. However, time wasn’t on the side of the Pilots and the score stood at 20-3 at the break.
Halftime activities included a performance by the Pilot Marching Band and the MHS Band and Silks, which placed first in its division at the Elkins Invitational Competition. Both organizations put on quite a show for the overflow crowd.
The Eagles got the second half kickoff and went right to work. Three straight runs by Bates had the Eagle offense on the Pilots 45. Fox hit Blatt for what appeared to be a touchdown, but officials ruled it out of bounds at the Pilot 10.
The Pilot defense stood tough and forced Magnolia to settle for a Fox 22-yard field goal, to push the score to 23-3, midway through the third. “That kick meant a lot to our kids coming into half-time,” said RHS Head Coach Mike Flannery, who started four freshmen, including QB Caldwell. “That was a nice drive we put together, but we needed to sustain that heading into the third period, but we didn’t.”
After a modest kick return, the Eagles’ Davey “Hitman” Howell sacked Caldwell to force a Pilot punt. Nice runs by Bates set up a 26-yard TD pass from Fox to Blatt. Fox split the uprights to give the hosts a 30-3 lead late in the third.
Howell and Seth Pay combined for a sack on Caldwell to help force yet another Pilot punt. A few plays later, Bates galloped 23 yards as time expired for a 37-3 Eagle lead after the Fox kick.
McConn ran the kickoff to the 38 yard line, but three consecutive MHS tackles in the River backfield – including a hostile hit by Jackson on third down – forced another Pilot punt.
The Eagles fumbled the punt and the Pilots recovered, but the Eagle defense wasn’t charitable this time and forced the Pilots to punt. On the punt return, junior Matt Sapp got a huge block from Pay and Cody Elliot that helped Sapp score on a 46-yard TD punt return. Fox was true on the kick for the final points of the game.
Bates led the Magnolia ground game, rushing for a game-high 91 yards and two TDs in his first game back after an injury at the Tyler Consolidated game. Jackson netted 21 yards on only six carries, while Jayson Keller tallied 23 yards on two totes. Fruner ran a reverse for 12 yards and Fox netted five yards on five carries.
Magnolia rushed for 152 yards on the night on 34 carries. McConn did have 48 yards on 20 carries, but with all the negative yardage from sacks and loss of yardage tackles, the Pilots ended the night with four negative yards.
In the passing department, Fox connected on 10-14 for 193 yards and three TDs and one interception. Blatt hauled in 123 yards and two TDs, while Fruner caught three passes for 63 yards and one touchdown. Cameron Benson caught one pass for seven yards for the Blue Eagles.
River’s Caldwell was 1-14 for 11 yards, while Cody Carretti’s only pass went for negative yardage. All told, the Pilots ended the night with five yards in the air for a positive one yard of offense.
As a team defensively, the Eagles had seven sacks nine tackles for loss of yardage, and one fumble recovery. Individual tackles: Zach Neff had 11 tackles, four solos, seven assists, including one sack and two tackles for loss of yardage.
Howell added 10 tackles, six were solo, four were assists, including one-and-a-half sacks and four tackles for loss of yardage. Traeh Keller also had 10 tackles, while baby brother Jayson added nine yards, including a quarterback sack. Cole Mullett added nine and Jackson and Drew Schmalz each recorded seven. Jackson had a tackle for loss of yardage and Schmalz added a QB sack.
Magnolia was penalized six times for 68 yards of lost territory, while the Pilots had the yellow flag tossed their way four times for 40 yards. All told, the Eagles moved the chains nine times and the Pilots eight. Magnolia lost one of two fumbles, while the Pilots lost one of three.
Magnolia is currently on top of the OVAC Class 3-A and is somewhere in the top five in West Virginia Class AA.
The Eagles have a bye week to get ready to host the unbeaten Monroe Central Seminoles Oct. 2. River will host the Caldwell Redskins Sept. 25.