Blue Eagles Drown River Pilots, 40-0
Friday night’s game was the 40th time that the Magnolia Blue Eagles and the River Pilots have met to play football. The annual rivalry is always a chance for the two neighboring communities to cheer for their team in hopes of securing bragging rights for the upcoming year.
But, before the game began those in attendance took a moment to remember the passing of Gloria Flannery, mother of Coach Mike Flannery, who passed away Thursday. Flannery Field is named after Mike’s dad, Martin, who was long time coach at River.
This year’s meeting saw MHS Head Coach Mark Batton’s Blue Eagles extend their record to 4 and 0 for the season with a 40-0 shutout.
Magnolia’s Justin Fox’s opening kickoff was fumbled by the Pilots on the 20 yard line and recovered by Eagle senior Jesse Glow. Two plays later Fox passed to Steven Rogalski who carried the ball in for six points. Fox’s extra point attempt failed.
After holding the Pilots to negative yards on its next possession, Brendan Kacor took a long Tanner Wright punt to midfield. With 9:22 left in the first quarter Fox once again found Rogalski in the end zone for a 49-yard TD. This time Fox’s extra point was good and the score was Magnolia 13-0.
The Pilots moved the ball some-what with nice runs by Austin McConn, James West, and Flint Postle and when you add an MHS personal foul, the Pilots where close to mid-field. Afterward, the Pilots defense stood tall and forced another punt. This time Fox ran the punt back 20 yards. Cameron Benson would later catch a long Fox aerial to the one yard line. With 1:53 left in the first quarter, Fox carried the ball in for the first of his two touchdowns on the night. The extra point was good and the score at the end of one quarter of play was Magnolia 20, River 0.
River fumbled the ensuing kick, but would recover the slippery pigskin. After a three and out Magnolia would get the ball back on a Rogalski fair catch.
Magnolia would spread the field and hand the ball off to Traeh Keller for a 15-yard gain, keyed by a Matt Riggs block. Jayson Keller broke a tackle and rambled for a nine-yard gain. The Pilots’ 6′ 3″ Evan Eggleston knocked down a Fox pass and made a nice tackle to force the Eagles to go for it on fourth down. However, a River penalty inched the ball to the 15 yard line for a first down. Fox found an opening in the River defense and scrambled in for his second touchdown. Fox’s kick sailed through the uprights for a 27-0 Magnolia advantage.
The front line of Bentley Knight, Dillon Simmons, Seth Findling, Matt Riggs, and Sam Shepherd was outstanding, protecting Fox and giving their running backs room to roam.
On the Pilots’ next possession, second year signal caller Cody Caldwell passed and got a first down. Runningback James West would add another from the ground before the Eagles’ Mike Winters ripped Caldwell’s head off for a quarterback sack to force a Wright punt. McConn would swipe a Eagle pass and the Pilots would move in for the kill. But, after a couple first down runs, Justin Wade would stop McConn in his tracks twice. However, on the second one his paw got into the face mask and the Pilots were knocking at the door at the 17 yard line. However, the Eagles’ defense tightened up a bit and Winters would make a nice tackle to force the Pilots to try for a 27-yard field goal. The Pilots tried a fake, but the holder’s knee was on the ground and the ball was called dead. Magnolia took over.
Halfway though the second quarter Fox found Rogalski open and needled a pass to him for their third TD of the night.
The two teams went to the halftime locker room with the score 34-0.
Timmy Shreve added a 16-yard TD scamper that included ducking a tackle for the only points scored in the second half.
Fox was 12-17 for 203 yards and three TDs, all in the first half, and ran two others in, while kicking three PATs and had an interception. Rogalski caught all six of his receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns, while Cameron Benson hauled in two for 38 yards. Jayson Keller caught two passes for 20 yards and Kyle Elliott and Traeh Keller each hauled in one pass apiece for 15 yard total.
The Pilots only had 73 yards of offense for the game. McConn had 30 yards rushing and caught two passes for six yards. West added 17 yards on the ground, while Postle and Jonathan Stewart each netting 11 yards.
In the rushing department, reserve runningback Kage Rohde had 54 yards; Jayson Keller, 42 yards; and Shreve, 39 yards. Tanner Fluharty added 34 yards and Eric Smith netted 24 yards. Other Eagles gaining yards from the ground include, Fox, Zach Arrick, Billy O’Neil, and Drew Keller.
McConn had an interception and Garth Richter had a pair of fumble recoveries for River.
On the other side of the ball, Kacor paced the Eagles with a career-high 12 tackles, while Winters added 11, including a tackle for loss of yardage. Fluharty contributed 10 tackles, including one for loss of yardage, while Shepherd, Traeh Keller, and Riggs each made nine stops. Jayson Keller added eight, and Benson and Wade, seven tackles. Leif Lallathin added five tackles, including one for loss of yardage and a quarterback sack. The Pilots will visit Caldwell, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m.
The Eagles have a week off before they travel to Woodsfield to tangle with the Monroe County Seminoles on Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m.