Eagles Knockoff ‘Noles, 13-0
The Magnolia Blue Eagles won their 600th football game Oct. 2 by taking advantage of two Monroe Central Seminole turnovers at Alumni Field. The Eagles converted the ‘Nole miscues into 13 points within a half minute midway into the third period, en route to a thrilling 13-0 shutout over the previous undefeated Seminoles.
Both teams exchanged punts on their first drives. On the Eagles’ second drive, Stingray Bates, Dillon “Action” Jackson and Treah Keller took the ball to the Seminole 20 yard line. But, the Eagles couldn’t put any points on the scoreboard at this point.
On Central’s next drive, Davie “Hitman” Howell sacked the ‘Nole quarterback on the last play of the first quarter and the Eagles got the ball back. Magnolia signal-caller Justin Fox went for the kill, but his pass was intercepted. However, the visitors couldn’t move the ball and were forced to punt.
Later, the Seminole defense sacked Fox on two consecutive plays and forced the Big Blue to punt. Both teams then traded punts and the it looked like the ‘Noles were getting something started. But, a ‘Nole personal foul took the ball to the Eagles’ 35, whereupon MHS junior Brendon Kacor came up big with a interception and returned it to the visitors’ 33.
On the Eagles’ third scoring opportunity, Jackson and Bates toted the ball to the 14 yard line. However, a 31 yard field goal attempt by Fox was no good and the score remained dead-locked at zero going into the locker room.
Nether team could put points on the board until late in the third, when the Seminoles picked off a Fox pass and returned it to the 44 yard line in Blue Eagle territory. On the first play from scrimmage, Magnolia’s front line stood up the Seminole ball carrier and, before he landed, Jackson snatched the ball hand and scampered 35 yards to the Monroe Central 26 yard line.
With all the momentum now clearly in favor of the home team, Fox would sneak it in from a yard out to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead. The point after kick was blocked, but the Eagle defense would make it hold up.
“That was the key play of the game, It gave us the momentum we needed,” said MHS Head Coach Mark Batton.
“We practiced that play on Tuesday,” stated Blue Eagle Defensive Coordinator Bob Ripley, referring to the play by Jackson. “We have a 2-1 drill where one guy makes a tackle and the other guy rips the ball out. Dillon was smart enough to go with it.”
After the ensuing kickoff, MHS junior linebacker Treah Keller smacked the ‘Noles quarterback right in the mouth to forced another fumble and recover it for the host team. Bates then rushed the ball to the one yard line and Jackson gave the good guys some added insurance points. The extra point kick sailed through the uprights for a Magnolia 13-0 advantage.
The Blue Eagle defense held the Monroe’s offense and forced another punt. The Eagles’ ground attack took over and knocked on the door once more at the visitors’ 13 yard line. However, the Seminole defense would stop Magnolia a field goal. The muddy conditions didn’t help much and Fox’s kick barely missed its mark and the game stood at 13-0
Monroe Central, now in accelerated mode, moved the chains four times and had the Eagles on their heels deep in hostile territory. But, on fourth down, a Seminole pass fell harmlessly to the ground and Magnolia took possession.
The Blue Eagles racked up 203 yards on the ground, paced by the dynamic duo of Bates and Jackson. Bates netted a game-high 124 yards, while Jackson netted 91 hard-earned yards and a touchdown. Keller, used mainly as a blocker for Bates and Jackson, added seven yards on four carries.
Fox had his worst offensive aerial game of the season, completing one of two passes to Cameron Benson.
The Eagles cut their penalties way down, with only four yellow flags thrown their way for 45 yards. The ‘Noles were penalized three times for 20 yards lost.
Magnolia moved the chains 14 times, while the ‘Noles moved them nine times, five of them on their last offensive series.
The Big Blue defense held the powerful Monroe squad to 73 yards rushing and 67 yards passing. Keller had seven solo tackles and assisted on eight others, including a fumble recovery, to lead the Blue Eagle defense. Cole Mullett contributed 13 stops, while Zach Neff chipped in with 10 tackles. Jackson added seven tackles and had a fumble recovery. Howell added a quarterback sack to go along with seven tackles, while Jared Blatt and Sam Shepherd each added six tackles.
The Eagles will look to keep on rolling this Friday, Oct. 9, when they welcome the Weir Red Riders to the Blue Eagle Homecoming night. Magnolia then travels to Lincoln County on Oct. 16 and then to Barnesville on Oct. 23. The Eagles will finish off the month Oct. 30 against Oak Glen for senior night, before going to Grafton for the last game of the regular season, on Nov. 6.