Magnolia Steals One From Williamstown
The Magnolia Blue Eagles are just one-step away from a WVSSAC Class A State championship game after nipping reigning champion Williamstown, 14-13, at rainy Alumni Field Saturday evening.
In a game which could have gone either way, Magnolia’s Blue Eagles soared to greater heights. After winning the opening toss and electing to receive, the Big Blue ran into a staunch Williamstown defense and were forced to punt on their fist possession. Brooks Parsons got off a 43-yarder which backed the Yellow Jackets up to the 23.
On their fist play from scrimmage, Williamstown quarterback Trent Tallman found pay-dirt on a 77-yard run after cutting through the middle of Magnolia’s line. However, a clipping penalty brought the ball back to the 35-yard line.
Tallman then picked up six more yards on first down and would then cut through the left side for 30 yards and the first score of the game. Mike Beck came on for the extra point.
The Blue Eagles then put together a nice drive, but it stalled when a fourth-and-six pass from Nick Priem to Tyler Anderson fell incomplete at the 11 yard line. Williamstown took over, but couldn’t move the ball. After a motion penalty and a bad snap, the ball was now on the six yard line where it was forced to punt.
Magnolia took over on the 44-yard line after a fair catch by Anderson. From this point the Eagles running game picked up a first down at the 37 yard line with Anderson and Streets doing the damage. Two play later Anderson burst up the middle for a 27-yard TD scamper. Troy Bougner came on and drilled one through the goal posts to tie things up at 7-all with 10:39 left in the first half.
“We talked at the half about being in a dogfight and what we needed to do to come out of it,” Magnolia head coach Josh Sims said following the game. “We had the two fumbles in the fourth quarter, but they shot themselves in the foot also. I can tell you that win, lose or draw, both coaches had to leave here viewing this as a success.
From there things started getting interesting as the rain and wind began presenting problems for both teams. With the field conditions going down hill and the ball becoming slipper,y neither squad could get a passing game going.
Williamstown’s first possession after Magnolia’s score resulted in a fumble, caused and recovered by Hunter Brill. The Blue Eagles looked to be back in business, only to find themselves in a third and 20 situation after a no gainer by Streets and an incomplete toss. Priem’s next pass was picked off by Williamstown’s Braden Mullenix.
The Blue Eagles defense would then tighten and the ‘Jackets found themselves faced with a fourth and nine and were forced to punt. Magnolia took over at the 37-yard line and advanced to their own 48 before turning it over on downs.
Eight plays later, Tallman ran off tackle for 15 yards and a touchdown to up the count to 13-7 with 21.8 seconds to play in the half. Beck’s extra point kick was batted away by Zach Haught and the defending state champs went into the locker room with the six-point advantage.
With the rain still coming down and the temperature dropping, Williamstown took the second half kick at its 16 and advanced to the 26. Tallman then ripped one off for 57 yards to the Eagles’ 17. However, the Big Blue defense again held, and a fourth and seven pass fell short to give the ball back to the Blue Eagles.
Magnolia wasted no time as Street ripped off a quick 77 yards on a dash down the left side to give the Big Blue a first and 10 at the 11 yard line. After two short gains, Anderson busted through from five yards out to tie the score at 13 with 6:31 left in the third period. Boughner split the uprights to give the Blue Eagles the lead for good at 14-13.
The next two possessions by Williamstown and Magnolia showed the results of the bad weather as both teams exchanged fumbles. On the Yellowjackets next possession things didn’t get any better as they had a fumble for a 14 yard loss and a bad snap, Tallman was then sacked for a loss of three and Magnolia took over at the 39 yard line.
The Big Blue then moved the ball down field to the Williamstown 35 on five straight runs by Street and a no gainer by Anderson. Facing a third and seven at the 35 yard line, Street coughed it up and the Yellow Jackets had one last chance from their own 37. Tallman picked up a first down at the 48 yard line, and on the next play there was another bad snap that Tallman couldn’t handle and Magnolia’s Zach Haught picked it off in mid-air to give the Big Blue offense the ball with 2:39 remaining in the fourth.
Twice Magnolia faced a fourth and short yardage and both times Williamstown jumped the gun that gave Magnolia a new set of downs.
The Blue Eagles were able to run out the clock and come away with the victory.
Street finished with 22 carries for 171 yards, while Anderson netted 92 yards on 22 totes. Priem added 18 yards on five carries. Priem, completed two passes one to Kyle Ritz for 11 yards and the other to Anderson for 23 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles were led by Brill with 11 stops, including one tackle for loss of yardage, one forced fumble and recovered two fumbles. Haught followed with nine tackles, two went for loss of yardage. He also had a sack, forced a fumble, recoved a fumble and blocked an extra point kick.
“Our defense has been the story for us all season long,” Sims said. “They are a very intelligent and mature group and they understand what they need to do in big situations. Obviously I would’ve liked a better game offensively, but the weather and penalties hurt us.”
In addition, Joe Ledegerber brought down seven Yellow Jackets, that included a quarterback sack. Carter Seckman and Peau Halahingano each added six tackles, while Ritz dropped four including two for loss of yardage.
The win assured there would be a new state champion in Class A this year. Magnolia will meet up with Moorefield on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in New Martinsville at Bill Stewart Memorial Stadium on Alumni Field Field.