Eagles Soar To Paradise Island With 41-7 Victory
In a 41-7 win over the Greenbrier West Cavaliers Nov. 26, Magnolia Blue Eagle Jayson Keller racked up 176 yards on 16 carries and scored twice in the first half. Meanwhile, the MHS defense held the top scoring Class-AA Cavaliers to no points, 12 total yards, and only one first down in the first half played at Magnolia’s Alumni Field.
Greenbrier won the toss and elected to receive. Magnolia’s Justin Fox booted the ball all the way to Wheeling Island for a touchback. Eagle defender Tanner Fluharty had two straight tackles for negative yardage and held the mighty Cavs to a three-and-out on the first West offensive series.
The punt went out of bounds at the Greenbrier 49 yard line. Two runs by the Eagles’ Jayson Keller were mixed in with a seven-yard loss on a Brendan Kacor end-around. Keller then took the ball to the Cavs’ 31, whereupon he scrambled for 14 yards and a first down, after being tripped up at the line. Fox’s first two pass attempts went to Stephen Rogalski, who took it to the Cavs’ 18. From there, it was all Keller. He took the hand off and went the rest of the way, untouched, for the game’s first tally.
The ensuing kick went out of bounds and West took over at its own 35. On the next play, Fluharty forced and recovered a fumble at the Cavs’ 34 and the Eagles were in business once more. A screen pass to Keller took the ball to the Magnolia 18 yard line, but a Blue Eagle penalty pushed them back to the 23.
From there, Keller took the ball to the 13 and picked up the first down at the Cavs’ five yard line. After a Magnolia time out, Fox eluded a Greenbrier rush and hit a wide open Traeh Keller in the back of the end zone for the score, pushing it to 14-0 after Fox nailed his second PAT with 3:56 to go in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kick, Kage Rhode put the hurt on the Greenbrier West kick returner at the Cavaliers’ five yard line. After a five yard gainer, Matthew Riggs stopped another attempt at the line of scrimmage. Treah Keller then rocked the Cavs’ runner short of a first down on an outstanding defensive play that forced a punt.
Fox returned the punt 15 yards to the Cavaliers’ 25 yard line. From this point, the Greenbrier defense held Magnolia to negative yardage and forced a Blue Eagle punt. Fox’s punt rolled into the end zone and West took over at its 20 yard line.
Riggs put to rest a Greenbrier ball carrier for a loss of two yards and teammate Cameron Benson made the last tackle of the first quarter of action. After a short gainer, West once again punted and the Eagles took over at their own 34 yard line.
After a Jayson Keller gain of five yards, Fox misfired and was sacked back to the 35 yard line for Magnolia’s second straight three-and-out series and was forced to punt for the first time in the playoffs.
On their first play from scrimmage, the Eagles’ Sam Shepherd made a tackle in the Cavalier backfield. After a gain of three yards, the Cavs were forced to punt. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Magnolia pushed the ball back to the 27.
Jayson Keller was hit in the backfield for minus yardage and an Eagle false start took the ball back to the 19. Fox would hook up with Benson for a first down. After two positive runs by Jayson Keller, he scrambled 45 yards to paydirt, pushing the Eagle advantage to 21-0 after the Fox extra point kick.
Fox drilled a scribbler and the Greenbrier West return man was decked by Treah Keller at the West 36 yard line. Shepherd tackled a Cavalier in the backfield for a loss of one. And, after an incomplete pass, Fluharty harassed the Greenbrier quarterback, forcing an incomplete pass and another punt.
Kacor returned the punt to the 41 yard line. After a pair of runs by Jayson Keller – keyed by a Dillon Simmons block – the Eagles were ready to score once again. The Greenbrier West defense stopped Jayson Keller short of the goal line, but couldn’t contain the quarterback sneak by Fox that gave the home team a 28-0 lead with 3:27 left in the opening half.
Fox’s kick was returned to the 34 yard line, where Rhode interrupted the ball carrier. Treah Keller and Fluharty made outstanding defensive plays that forced the Cavaliers to punt. Kacor returned the punt to the Cavs’ 45. The Eagles would march all the way to the 10 yard line, where Fox hit Rogalski from 10 yards out for a touchdown. With 46 seconds left in the first half, Magnolia led, 35-0.
At the break, Jayson Keller had accumulated 176 yards on 16 carries and two scores, while Fox was 8-11 for 92 yards and a pair of TD passes. The Eagle defense held Greenbrier West to 12 total yards of offense and only one first down.
After the second half kickoff, Magnolia went to Jayson Keller, who pounded the helpless Cavaliers with positive gains before leaving the field with a career-high 215 yards and two touchdowns. Fox would connect with Kacor on a nifty 32-yard pitch-and-catch for the Eagles’ final tally.
The Magnolia reserves then took to the field and would threaten in the fourth period. But, a Cavalier first-team defender ripped the ball out of the grasp of an Eagle runner and raced for a 99- yard score to halt the Eagles’ chances of their eighth shutout of the season.
The Magnolia defense held the once top-scoring Class-AA team to seven points and one first down, while limiting the Cavaliers to only 31 total yards of offense. West misfired on all nine passing attempts.
The Eagles moved the chains 20 times. Jayson Keller led the Eagle ground game with a career-high 215 yards rushing on 22 carriers and two scores, while Rhode netted 40 yards on eight carries. Timmy Shreve contributed 25 yards on a pair of carries, while Zach Arrick, Billy O’Neil, Tanner Hanna, Drew and Traeh Keller each tallied positive yards.
On the receiving end, Kacor caught two passes for 49 yards and a score, while Rogalski hauled in three catches for 23 yards and a score. Benson snagged a pass for 20 yards, while Jayson Keller nabbed two passes for 26 yards. Treah Keller totaled 18 yards on two snatches and a score. Fox was 10-14 passing for 136 yards and three scores.
With the win, the Eagles advance to the state championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium on Friday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m., when they will take on the top-seeded Ravenswood Red Devils.