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Blue Eagles’ Second Half Rally Falls Short

By Staff | Sep 27, 2017

Photos by Chris Jenkins Blue Eagle defenders take down the Central offense during Friday night football action, Sept. 22 at Bishop Schmidt Field.

After falling behind 17-6 in the first half, the Magnolia Blue Eagles outscored the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights 21-12 in the second half of football action, but it wasn’t enough to get past the knights, 29-27, on Sept. 22 at Bishop Schmidt Field, Wheeling Jesuit University.

Both teams were forced to punt on their opening drives, but the Knights took over at their own 18-yard line on their second series.

On its first snap, Wheeling Central converted on a 82-yard pitch-and-catch for the game’s first points. And after the successful extra point kick, Central led 7-0 with 7:48 left on period one.

Brooks Parsons returned the ensuing kick to midfield. Parsons followed the kick with a nifty 30-yard run to the Knights 20-yard line, setting up Hunter Partridge’s one-yard plunge to cut the deficit to one, after the missed Patrick Mirandy conversion attempt, at 7-6, with 5:31 to go in the first.

The Knights started the next drive at their own 37-yard line, but a coverage sack by the Eagles’ Jared Barrows forced Central to punt.

The Eagles started their next drive at their own 30-yard line, and Partridge then raced 27 yards on its first play to the Central 43-yard line, but the drive stalled and the Knights took over at their own 15-yard line.

The Maroon completed a pass but Mirandy stripped the Central ball carrier and it was recovered by the Eagles’ Sebastian Stickler.

In the second quarter, the Eagles turned the ball over on downs at the Knights’ 22. The Knights would take about five minutes off the clock, and made their way down to the Eagles’ eight, before the drive stalled. Central would have to settle for a 25-yard field goal to push its advantage to 10-6 6:48 remaining in the second quarter.Magnolia started its next drive at it 35-yard line on the ensuing kick. Partridge made a nice run to the 43, but a penalty backed the Eagles up to the 29-yard line. The combination of Mirandy to Parsons had the Eagles at the 35-yard line, but the drive would later stall, and had to punt drive.

Wheeling Central converted a fourth-and-short situation and was aided by a Blue Eagle interference call to take a 17-6 advantage with a little more than a minute remaining in the opening half.

After an onside kick, the Eagles were knocking at the door at midfield for its third time in the first half. However, their drive

would come to abrupt stop on an interception to end the first half with the Knights leading 17-6.

The Big Blue opened the second half at their own 42-yard line, and it didn’t take them long to get into scoring position with a couple runs by Partridge and a Mirandy to Parsons connection, sitting pretty at the Central 35 yard line. Two plays later, the combination of Mirandy to Parsons went to the house from 35 yards out to cut the deficit to, 17-14, after the two-point conversion pass to Leo Herrick.

With 10:26 to go in the third, it looked like the momentum was swinging towards the Blue Eagles. However, the Maroon Knights quickly grabbed the momentum right back as they started at their own 29-yard line after the ensuing kick, and got a huge run inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line.

Two plays later, Central scored on a six yard run, but their PAT was no good and Wheeling led 23-14 with 8:40 left in the third.

The Eagles’ James Stillwagner returned the ensuing kickoff to the Central 48 yard line. After a positive run by Partridge, and a tackle for loss, the Eagles were a third and long. But never fear, the combination of Mirandy to Parsons went for 40 yards to the Central 12-yard line.

On third down at the 10, Mirandy spotted Leo Herrick wide open in the end zone for the score, but the two point conversion attempt was no good, and the score now read 23-20 Central with 3:15 left in the third.

Central started its ensuing drive at its 20, and thanks to a couple runs and a pair of Big Blue penalties, Central quickly stood at the Eagles’ 35-yard line. However, the Big Blue defense rose to the challenge and forced Central to turn the ball over on downs.

On the drive, the Eagles lost Partridge for the rest of the game due to an injury.

Mirandy raced 22 yards, and after a couple incomplete passes, Mirandy hooked up with Parsons for gain of 19 yards to the Knights 27 that ended the third period.

To start the fourth, Mirandy hit Herrick over the middle for a first down to the 16. However, a couple Central tackles for loss of yards, had the drive stalled, and turned the ball over on downs. The Eagles defense held tough and forced a three and out, and Central punted. The Eagles offense, without their star running-back, went on a 12-play drive with just under six minutes showing on the clock from their own 36-yard line that ended with a Stillwagner five-yard touchdown scamper to give Magnolia the lead at 27-23 after the Mirandy PAT with 1:44 remanding in regulation.

The Knights started their subsequent drive at their own 32-yard line, but a penalty backed them up to the 27-yard line.

Wheeling Central got to midfield, but would have to spike the ball to stop the clock. Magnolia’s Dakota Litton nearly ended the game with an interception but couldn’t pull it in. That brought up a fourth and long for the Knights from the Eagles’ 41.

However, the Knights got a big pass play off – a deep ball to the Eagles six. The Knights spiked the ball to stop the clock. Central scored on a six yard run. After the PAT kick, Central led 29-27 with 37 seconds left in the game.

Magnolia started its last drive at its 32-yard line. Mirandy found Parsons to the 42 for a first down, and Mirandy picked up a short gain, before trying a Hail Mary desperation pass that fell short as time expired.

“We just didn’t finish,” said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Chapman. “We scored with 1:44 to go, but we will have to look at the film, pick up and move on. That was a gut-wrencher.”

The Mirandy-to-Parsons combination accounted for 153 of the Eagles 200 yards passing yards with one touchdown, while Partridge added 51 yards rushing on 12 carries and one touchdown.

Parsons added 35 yards on two carries, while Mirandy picked up 13 yards on 10 carries. Stillwagner scored a rushing touchdown, while Herrick added 38 yards on three catches and a touchdown. Sebastian Stickler finished with five yards on his only carry, while Litton passed once for five yards.

Defensively, Herrick, Stillwagner, Stickler and Gage Adams each made eight tackles, with Stillwagner adding a quarterback sack and

Stickler recovered a fumble. In addition, Jared Barrows made seven stops, including one for loss of yardage, while Litton dropped six, and Partridge five, that included a tackle for loss of yards. Mirandy forced a fumble and made four tackles.

The Blue Eagles will host Monroe Central in its Homecoming game Friday at 7 p.m.

(RJ GOODE helped with the story.)