‘Noles Scalps Eagles, 31-19
NEW MARTINSVILLE – When you are a struggling team, any victory is a good victory. When it comes against a rival like Magnolia, it makes it that much sweeter.
Ryan LaFollette had one of the best games of his career, throwing for 306 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 154 and three scores as Monroe Central stunned Magnolia, 31-19, on Friday night at Alumni Field at Bill Stewart Memorial Stadium.
“What a game, this is real big for us,” legendary Monroe Central coach Jay Circosta said. “We have faced a lot of adversity this year, as well as a brutal schedule. Magnolia has a lot of skill people and we were concerned. You put the ball in (Brooks) Parsons’ hands and a lot of bad things can happen.
“Our kids hung in there and Ryan put on another great display of effort, as well as all of our kids. This is a big win for us going into the second half of the season.”
The Seminoles haven’t had much luck offensively this season, averaging 17 points per game. Last week they were shut out by Fort Frye.
Magnolia, despite playing without tailback Hunter Partridge, has playmakers in Parsons and Leo Herrick. If the Seminoles were going to win, they were going to have to break out offensively, as well as play their best defensive game of the season.
Check and check.
“We struggled big-time last week, but (Friday) we got things going and it was a team effort,” Circosta said. “We got another tough next week with Shenandoah and it just goes on and on.”
The first quarter resembled more of a track meet with 32 points scored in the opening 12 minutes.
Big plays were key for Monroe Central. After Parson opened the scoring with a 58-yard touchdown run on the second play, the Seminoles answered thanks to an 83-yard completion from LaFollette to Robert Bigler down the 8. LaFollette found Wyatt Young on the next play to tie the game.
On the next Seminoles possession, a 54-yard run by LaFollette put them in front.
After the Seminoles defense stopped Magnolia on a fourth-and-1, two plays later, Cooper Rush got behind the Magnolia secondary and LaFollette connected on a 79-yard touchdown pass.
Monroe Central scored on all three possessions in the first quarter.
Parsons, who rushed for 125 yards and three scores, pulled Magnolia even before halftime with touchdown runs of 2 and 46.
Magnolia couldn’t get anything going in the second half. Its possessions went punt, punt, punt, downs, fumbled snap, end of game.
Mirandy paced the Eagles offensively with 102-yards on 13 carries, while Parsons added 65-yards on only four carries and two scores, and James Stillwagner added three yards on five carries. From the air, Mirandy was 15-32 for 208-yards and a score, with Parsons catching eight passes for 105-yards and a touchdown. Sebastian Stickler caught four passes fr 70-yards, while Leo Herrick grabbed one pass for 21-yards, and Matthew Gaiser, two catches for 13 yards.
Defensively, Jared Barrows made nine tackles, three of which were for tackles for loss of yardage, while Stillwagner dropped eight, and Jakob Barrows seven.
Circosta let his playmaker take over the game in the fourth as the senior do-it-all scored twice a 6-yard quarterback draw that put the Seminoles in front for good and a 1-yard QB sneak that added an insurance score.
“Ryan makes things happen,” Circosta said. “Sometimes he tries to do to much and win the game on every play, but we tell him to ‘get what you can get, get down and live to play another down.’ He made some great plays, big throws. He is learning as a quarterback that steps make a difference.”
For Magnolia, it was a devastating loss that sends them to their fourth-straight loss and may likely end any hope of a playoff berth.
“I thought we came out and played hard, but we had two big plays called back (a Parsons punt return for a TD and a screen pass to the 5),” Magnolia coach Dave Chapman said. “LaFollette, put the ball in his hands and he made plays with his feet and his arms.
“Guys got behind us most of the night in the secondary. I think a lot of our guys thought (LaFollette) was going to run, he saw our guys come up and took advantage of it. That is backyard football and he did it pretty well. Sometimes you tip your hat to your opponent.
“This one stings. You watch film Monday, correct what can be corrected and move on. The best way to fix that is to get a win.”
(Bruce Crawford added to the story.)