Eagles Ground Bears, 7-6
With the undefeated Magnolia Blue Eagles down 6-0 late in the fourth period Oct. 29 to the Oak Glen Golden Bears, the Eagles would deliver a touchdown-scoring drive that accumulated 87 yards on 12 plays that was capped by a six-yard touchdown run by Jayson Keller for the tying touchdown for a hard-fought 7-6 victory after the Justin Fox extra point kick.
Oak Glen had two more chances after the Eagles’ TD drive down the field to win the game, but the Magnolia defense rose to the challenge, stopping the Golden Bears twice on downs.
“What a game,” said Magnolia Head Coach Mark Batton. “I don’t think too many people left there in that game, but yeah, what a great game and those are two teams who left everything on the field. I think you have got two very-exhausted teams right now.”
Oak Glen scored its lone touchdown of the game on its second drive of the game. The Golden Bears drove 68 yards, that was keyed by a 32-yard run. The drive was capped by a nine-yard scoring run on fourth down.
Right before the Blue Eagles’ touchdown drive, the Golden Bears were sparked by a 51-yard run and a 19-yard scamper by senior quarterback Shane Koper. They then drove inside the Blue Eagles’ 15. But unfortunately for Oak Glen, the drive stalled at the 13 yard line. Faced with a fourth-and-six, the Golden Bears attempted its first pass of the game, but Lucas McDowell’s pass was knocked away by Fox that turned the ball over to Magnolia with 10:35 left to play in the game.
Though their backs were up against the wall, the Blue Eagles moved the ball down the field on the strength of runs by Fox and running back Jayson Keller, keyed by outstanding blocking by WV All-State offensive line candidate Matt Riggs at fullback. Keller eventually capped the march with a six-yard scoring scamper to tie the score at six. Fox’s extra point gave Magnolia a 7-6 advantage and the win.
Magnolia ended the game with 217 yards of offense. The Blue Eagles ran the ball 36 times for 193 yards. Fox threw for 24 yards. Oak Glen ended up with 193 yards, all of which came on the ground. Oak Glen did not complete any of its four passing attempts.
The Blue Eagles picked up 12 first downs, while the Golden Bears produced seven. Magnolia committed six penalties for 40 yards. Oak Glen had eight penalties for 60 yards. The Blue Eagles fumbled three times, losing all three. Oak Glen did not fumble the ball.
Individually for Magnolia, Keller ran for 142 yards on 19 carries, while Fox accounted for 54 yards. Brendan Kacor rushed for 10 yards on his only carry.
Fox had his worst offensive passing game of the year, connected on 4-17 passes for 23 yards. Kyle Elliott caught one pass for 12 yards, while Kacor and Cameron Benson each caught one pass for seven yards.
Individually for Oak Glen, Koper rushed for 114 yards, while Chance Rowland rushed for 73 yards. Rowland eclipsed 4,000 yards rushing in his illustrious four-year career.
Defensively, Riggs led the Eagles with five solo tackles and assisted on seven others, while adding one tackle for loss of yardage and one quarterback sack. Mark Winter registered 12 tackles, while Benson and Justin Fluharty each hauled down 11 Oak Glen ball carriers. Sam Shepherd added 10 tackles, including two for loss of yardage, while Traeh Keller and Justin Wade were each credited with nine tackles.
Oak Glen entered the game tied for 15th in the West Virginia Class AA Playoff Ratings and look to be grounded, while the Eagles will gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs if they beat Grafton in its finale. The Eagles can also earn a second perfect 10-0 season with a victory over Grafton Nov. 5 at Alumni Field on Senior Night at 7:30 p.m.
Magnolia would definitely win the OVAC title with a win over Grafton and with a loss, they could still win on bonus points. Having beat both Tyler and Weir (these two play each other on Friday), Magnolia is assured of at least a tie with Martins Ferry for the title.
The Magnolia Football Boosters will be once again selling shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies for the upcoming playoffs. Prices range from $12 to $24 for the various items. All football parents, as well as Lisa Shepherd State Farm Insurance and Magnolia High School will have order forms available.
The MHS Football Boosters are using a “Going for the Gold” theme so all items will be gold. They are also hoping for a sea of gold in the stands and sidelines during all the West Virginia Playoff games.
Magnolia High School is lucky to have home field advantage again for Big Blue fans! There is a short time frame for orders. Cut-off is Sunday, Nov. 7, to have all items delivered for the first playoff game. Of course, the Football Boosters are hoping that all area business will show their spirit and go crazy with Blue and Gold signs, flags, shirts, etc., all the way to the state championships on Wheeling Island!