CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Magnolia set a Class A playoff record for fewest passing
yards in its first-round game against Valley Saturday at Laidley Field.
The bad thing about that for third-seeded Valley was that No. 14 seed Magnolia didn't need to throw the ball. The Blue Eagles (7-4) used a 239-yard rushing performance from senior Drew Keller to run away from the previously unbeaten Greyhounds (10-1) in a 42-16 rout.
"Drew's really come up big for us, especially these last few weeks," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. "Drew would be the first to tell you that offensive line did one heck of a job. Kyle Ritz leading Drew through there was amazing.
"But Drew runs downhill and it makes it hard to stop him."
The win was the third in a row for Magnolia after dropping to 4-4 with a last-second loss at St. Marys on Oct. 18. The Blue Eagles will play at No. 6 seed Moorefield (10-1) in the quarterfinals, at a date and time to be determined today.
Magnolia established itself quickly Saturday, taking the opening kickoff and marching 58 yards on eight plays, with Keller carrying six times in the drive. Senior Jake Brill dived into the end zone from the 1 on a quarterback sneak to give the Blue Eagles a lead they never gave up.
Keller's straight-ahead running style posed problems for the Valley defense all game. He carried 25 times in the first half alone as Magnolia built a 28-8 lead. Wide receiver Eric Smith got into the running game as well, scoring on a 68-yard run in the first quarter. He finished with 120 of Magnolia's 447 rushing yards.
"We didn't tackle today, that's the big thing right there," Valley coach Bennie Hopkins said. "I know we hit Keller one time for a 5-yard loss and he ended up scoring a touchdown. Hey, they've got a good football team.
"They've lost three games by a field goal or so. I tell you, they're a sleeper in Class A. They were quicker than we thought they would be, to be honest with you."
Valley had a chance to get back into the game at the start of the second half. Keyshawn Payne returned the second-half kickoff to the Magnolia 30, and a pass from Raeshawn Breckenridge to Drew Bowen gave the Greyhounds first-and-goal just inside the Magnolia 10.
But on fourth-and-goal from the 3, Breckenridge coughed up the football and Ritz, the Blue Eagles' standout defensive end, recovered for a touchback.
"That was huge. I struggled all week with who we were going to kick the ball to," Batton said. "I couldn't really find any weakness to kick to, and they got a great kickoff return. To get that defensive stop was big, and then I think we chewed off five or six minutes of clock after that."
Magnolia took the ball after the touchback and drove 80 yards on 10 plays, and Keller capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run that put the Eagles ahead 35-8.
Valley's offense had a tough time getting any rhythm going in the game, and finished with 103 rushing yards on 28 carries. Breckenridge, who absorbed a 30-yard loss on fourth down in the game's final minute, led the Greyhounds with 36 rushing yards on 18 attempts. He was 7-of-14 passing for 101 yards and a 23-yard touchdown to Bowen.
Saturday November 16, 2013
Magnolia ends Valley streak, season