Magnolia Raids Roane County In First Round
The Magnolia Blue Eagles are one step closer to the West Virginia Class AA Championship after knocking off the 15-seed Roane County Raiders (5-8) in the opening round of the WV football playoffs Alumni Field Friday.
Dillon “Action” Jackson highlighted the evening by surpassing MHS Alumni Greg Babe as the school’s new career rushing leader after rambling 13-yards in the third period. Jackson, who rushed for 118 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns in the contest, now has accumulated a career 2,198 yards.
Right on his heels is teammate Stingray Bates, who toted the ball 12 times and gained 139 yards and a touchdown. Bates is in fourth place, only 31 yards behind Jackson.
“These two kids are quite a tandem and they play well together,” said Blue Eagle Head Coach Mark Batton.
The Eagles kicked off to start the game and the duo of Cole Mullett and Brendon Kacor was “Johnny on the spot,” stopping the Raider ball returner on the spot at Roane’s 14 yard line. After a screen pass accumulated five yards, Blue Eagle defender Justin “Tank” Fox made a nice read, jumped up, and swatted the ball, catching it on its descent on the Raiders’ 23 yard line.
After a first down run by Bates, Fox connected with his favorite receiver, Jared Blatt, who was wide open for a five-yard touchdown. The Fox PAT was successful and the Eagles bolted out to a 7-0 lead with 9:39 remaining in period one.
On the ensuing kick, Mullett dropped the Raider runner at the 33 yard line after a nice 20 yard kick return.
Roane’s first play went for no gain as Traeh Keller met the Raider running back head on. After a Roane false start, the Raiders picked up a first down on a pass. But, on a double reverse, Fox made a nice stop and hauled in a fumble on the next play at the 47 yard line.
A quick strike to a wide open Stephen Rogalski fell incomplete, as did another to Cameron Benson. Magnolia was guilty of a holding call and was pushed back to the Roane 47 yard line. However, Bates rambled 25 yards to move the chains. After a Jackson run, Fox connected with Blatt for a 16 yard TD strike and converted the extra point.
It didn’t take long for Raider fans to guess that it might be a long night, as the Eagles’ Kacor and Tanner Martin laid out the Raider ball carrier in his tracks at the 13 yard line. Blue Eagle defensive end Davey “Hit Man” Howell eliminated a Roane ball carrier for a four-yard loss and again for a one-yard loss, before a flock of Eagles stopped the next play for no gain. That forced the Raiders to punt from the back of the end zone. Mullett raced in to block the kick for a safety, pushing the Magnolia advantage to 16-0 with 4:32 left in the first period of play. It was Mullett’s second safety from a blocked punt and the team’s third in two games.
Bates ran back the kick 20 yards to the visitors’ 42 yard line. Derek Fruner gained eight yards on an end around, while Jackson tacked on 12 yards for another Magnolia first down. However, the Eagle drive stalled and the Raiders took over on downs at the 12 yard line with 2:07 left in the first period.
After a negative run, the Raiders’ ground game picked up four yards. However, the Roane quarterback was sacked by Zach “Rudy” Neff to force another punt from the end zone. But, this time, the punt escaped the arms of several Eagle defenders, including Neff.
Magnolia took over at the Roane 35 yard line to start the second period and the Fox to Blatt combination hooked up for 20 yards that included a nasty stiff arm by Blatt.
Fox faked a hand-off and rambled into the end zone with the help of some nice blocking from the Eagle front line. Fox drilled the kick between the goal posts for the point after and the Eagles were out in front 23-0.
With 11:16 left in the second period, Fox drilled the ensuing kick in the back of the end zone for a touchback. After a motion penalty and a Keller sack, Roane was forced to punt once more. However, this time, Eagle defenders were called for roughing the kicker and the visitors had a new set of downs with the ball resting on the 30 yard line.
Jackson made a nice defensive play and the duo of Neff and Blatt tackled a Roane ball carrier in the backfield for a loss of yardage, to force another punt.
The punt did not travel very far, as the Eagles’ defensive pressure was just too much for the Raider punter and Magnolia took over at its own 37 yard line.
Fox hit Benson for a 51-yard gain and Bates added another 10 yards before Jackson bullied his way in from two yards out for a Magnolia touchdown. Fox’s kick split the uprights and the Eagles lead ballooned to 30-0 with 7:24 remaining until the break.
Tanner Fluharty ended the Roane kick back with a furious tackle that separated the ball from the ball carrier and Howell scooped it up and scored. However, the play was called dead and the Howell touchdown was nullified. After an illegal shift by Roane, Matt Riggs made two straight tackles for loss of yardage and Fluharty added another to force a Roane punt.
On the first play, Jackson out ran the Raider defense for a 65-yard touchdown. After the extra point kick, Magnolia was out in front by the score of 37-0 with 5:08 left in the second period.
The Eagles’ Matt Sapp made a nice tackle on the kick and the Eagle defense would force yet another three and out.
A missed Fox field goal from the 15 yard line sent the game into intermission with Magnolia holding a strong 37-0 lead.
Jackson and Bates tallied 83 and 80 yards, respectively, in the first half, while Fox added 23 yards on the ground. He also connected on 6-9 passes for 109 yards passing and added a pair of touchdowns. Blatt caught five passes for 58 yards, while Benson snatched one out of the air for 51 yards. The Magnolia defense held the Roane Raiders to a negative 27 yards rushing, but gave up only 13 total yards in the half.
Keller ran the second half kick off to the 41 yard line and, three plays later, Bates ran it in from 10 yards out to push the score to 44-0 after Fox’s kick.
Magnolia held Roane to three and out and took over possession at the 39 yard line. Later in the drive, Jackson ran over countless Raiders to move the chains on a fourth down call. Keller capped off the drive with a two yard TD run and Fox made good on his seventh PAT kick for a 51-0 Magnolia advantage midway into the third period.
The Raiders fumbled the kick, but recovered before Nick Blatt could fall on it. Neither team could dent the scoreboard the rest of the period, but the Raiders connected on an 81 yard pass play in the fourth period for their only touchdown of the game.
The Blue Eagle second unit offense did its part and moved the ball all the way down to the Roane County one yard line before freshman Zach Aarick bullied his way over for a one-yard plunge. The two-point conversion run fell short and the game ended with the Eagles advancing to the great eight, while Roane’s season ended with a 6-5 record.
The combination of Bates and Jackson accounted for 257 Eagle yards on the ground. Bates led the charge with 139 yards and a touchdown, while Jackson netted 118 yards and two tallies. Shreve added 24 yards, while Fox scrambled for 23 yards and Keller claimed 20 yards for the Blue Eagles. Other Blue Eagles adding yardage were Billy O’Neil with 18 yards, Zach Aarick with 11 yards, and Derek Fruner with nine yards.
In the air, Fox connected on 6-9 passes for 109 yards and made two touchdowns, with all of them coming in the first half. Jared Blatt caught five Fox aerials for 58 yards and two touchdowns, while Benson caught another pass for 51 yards.
Defensively, Keller led the tackle column with 13 of them in the game, including a sack, while Neff took care of a dozen that included a tackle for loss of yardage and a pair of quarterback sacks. Howell got into the fun with 10 tackles, including two for loss of yardage.
Other top defensive stops came from Cole Mullett with six tackles and a safety, while Matt Riggs accounted for seven tackles, including a quarterback sack. Fluharty contributed seven tackles, including a tackle for loss of yardage and a pair of quarterback sacks. The trio of Sam Shepherd, Jared Blatt, and Jayson Keller each tallied five tackles.
The Magnolia defense had 10 tackles that went for negative yardage, while adding six quarterback sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception, and one safety. The defense held Roane to negative yardage on the ground for the game. Roane had a positive 88 yards for the game with the bulk coming on an 81-yard pass in the fourth period.
“The effort of our offensive and defensive units was tremendous. It was a total team effort,” said Batton. “Our defense really brought pressure on their quarterback.”
The win pushes Magnolia to 11-0 on the season as it prepares to host Keyeser in round two of the playoffs at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Alumni Field.
Advance tickets for the second round football playoffs against Keyser will be available at Magnolia High School on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. On Friday, tickets will be available from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. only.
No advance tickets will be sold at Magnolia after 1 p.m. Friday. Advance ticket prices are: Adults $7 and students $5. All tickets at the gate are $7. The gates will open at 11:30 a.m. with the game getting underway at 1:30 p.m.
The following are reminders for WVSSAC events: only WVSSAC passes are accepted; no reserve seats allowed; no umbrellas in the stands; and no pass-outs or re-entry for any reason.