Eagles One Win
Nine down and one more victory to go for a perfect regular season, after the Magnolia Blue Eagles knocked off the Oak Glen Golden Bears, 31-13 Oct. 30 at Alumni Field on Senior Night.
After hauling in the opening kickoff, the Golden Bears tossed an 86-yard touchdown pass to grab a quick 7-0 lead with only 19 ticks coming off the clock.
“Being behind on the scoreboard doesn’t shake these kids,” said Magnolia Head Football Coach Mark Batton. “They just continue to work hard and believe in themselves.”
After Cameron Benson brought back the ensuing kick 40 yards, MHS running backs Stingray Bates and Dillon Jackson took turns running the ball to move the chains. On a third down and 15, Justin Fox connected with Jared Blatt for an apparent first down pass, but an illegal participation call negated the pitch and catch. The Bears held Bears held and forced the Eagles to punt. Fox’s punt pinned Oak Glen inside the five yard line.
On the Bears’ first play from scrimmage, Eagle linebacker Zach Neff met an Oak Glen runner head on for a one yard loss. On third down, he hurried the Bear quarterback throw for an incomplete and forced the visitors to punt from the end zone.
Fox hauled in the punt and scampered to the 20 yard line to set up the Blue Eagles’ first tally. Bates gained five yards on the first attempt and Jackson tallied eight more to move the ball inside the 10-yard line. One play later, Bates high-stepped it in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown that knotted the game at seven after the successful PAT by Fox and with 5:05 left in the opening round.
The Magnolia defense forced the Bears into a three and out. On the punt return, the Eagles were hit with a block in the back penalty and took over at their own 16 yard line. Bates took a Fox pitch and rushed for four yards, while Jackson bullied his way down the pike for a 32-yard gainer. The Eagles’ drive stalled and Fox nailed a 24-yard field goal to give Magnolia its first lead, 10-7, early in the second period.
After holding the Bears once again, Fox hit Blue Eagle freshmen Stephen Rogalski on a 49-yard touchdown pass, for a 17-7 lead late in the second period.
Oak Glen returned the ensuing kick in decent field position. The Bears would march down the field on short passes and would tally their second score on an eight-yard touchdown catch right before the half to close the gap, 17-13.
Jackson returned the kick to the Golden’s 37 yard line with 12.5 seconds remaining in the first half and the Eagles had thoughts of scoring once more. With nobody open, Fox scrambled to the Eagles’ sideline before being corralled by the mask by a Golden Bear defender. A five-yard penalty was assessed on the face mask instead of a 15 yard flagrant. Fox would throw it up with three seconds remaining and was picked off to end the half.
Bates and Jackson combined for 124 yards on the ground in the first half, while Fox tossed an even 100 yards through the air to lead the offense. The MHS defense held the mighty Golden Bear rushing attack to a minus two yards rushing in the first half. However, Magnolia gave up 156 yards through the air. But, after the 86 yarder early in the game, the Bears only gained 68 total yards.
Magnolia returned the second half kick to the 28 yard line and, after two runs, Fox tossed his second interception and the Bears were knocking on the door. After a first down pass, the Bears shot themselves in the foot with two straight motion penalties. The Bears got greedy and went for it on fourth down, but Sam Shepherd’s quarterback sack denied their guests from making any further noise.
Magnolia then traveled 64 yards, mostly on runs by Bates and Jackson, and capped the series off with a 28-yard Bates TD run to give the good guys a 24-13 lead.
After the ensuing kick, the Eagle defense came up big once more. On a third and long, the Oak Glen quarterback was intercepted at midfield by Blue Eagle defender Jayson Keller.
Magnolia couldn’t convert the turnover into points, but Fox pinned the Bears once more inside the five yard line for the second time in the game. Neff met an Oak Glen runner at the line for no gain and the Bears called a time out.
After another Bear motion penalty, Shepherd and Davey “Hit man” Howell forced the Oak Glen quarterback to hurry his last two passes. Magnolia took over at the 35 yard line and, one play later, Bates flew over the goal line for the final 31-13 score.
The Magnolia defense stymied Oak Glen late in the fourth period and went on a six minute march that resulting in three consecutive first down runs before taking a knee.
“Our offensive line did a wonderful job of blocking for Bates and Jackson. That allowed us to pound the ball in the second half” added Batton. “What a way to finish the game!”
Both teams were hit with 80 yards in penalties during the game, with Oak Glen getting 11 flags and Magnolia seven. “I thought I was watching a flag football game with all those yellow flags being thrown all over the field,” said Florida resident Cindy Ball, who was in New Martinsville visiting.
Bates had 186 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 25 totes, while Jackson netted 78 yards on 15 carries. Jackson needs only two more yards to reach 2,000 in his career, with Bates needing another 100-yard-plus performance.
Fox connected on 6-9 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. Rogalski caught one pass for 49 yards and a TD, while Blatt hauled in 41 yards on three catches. Cameron Benson caught one Fox pass for 28 yards, while Bates caromed one pass for five yards.
Traeh Keller led the way defensively with eight tackles, including a half sack, while Neff dropped five Golden Bears. Fox and Shepherd each corralled four Bears, while Matthew Riggs, Seth Pay, and Tanner Fluharty each added half a sack.
Magnolia will visit last year’s Class AA State Champions, the Grafton Bearcats, on Nov. 6 with a kickoff at 7:30 p.m. If the Blue Eagles prevail, it will be the first time in a decade that Magnolia has had a perfect 10-0 season.