NEW MARTINSVILLE - When the game's in the balance in the fourth quarter, it's fairly common for a team to give the ball to its bruising back and let him salt things away. But what you don't see all that often, is that guy being the quarterback.
That's a luxury that has been afforded Monroe Central coach Jay Circosta in the form of 6-foot, 230-pound senior Tyler Kinchen. Friday night at Alumni Field, Kinchen broke the will - possibly a couple facemasks, too - of Magnolia in a 40-24 Seminoles (5-1) victory.
''One of the coaches said 'he's getting tired,' '' Circosta said of a late-game discussion. ''I said, 'hey, put it in his hands.'
Monroe Central’s Tyler Kinchen (13) fights for yardage as Magnolia’s Drew Keller (21) attempts a tackle during action of their game Friday night. At left is the Blue Eagles’ Jacob Brill (15).
Photo by Art Limann
''He shares the ball pretty well and he's hard to bring down.''
After the Blue Eagles (2-3) had cut the deficit to 10 at the 7:20 mark of the fourth quarter, the Noles did indeed put it in Kinchen's hands after recovering an onside kick at their own 47. He accounted for 50 of the 53 yards on the drive, including the final 18 for the back-breaking score.
Kinchen carried the ball 22 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and completed 5 of 9 for 84 yards and two more scores. The second of those came on a fourth-and-8 from the Magnolia 15. Kinchen rolled left and was met by a pair of defenders but flipped the ball to Kole Hogue, who waltzed into the end zone just before falling to the ground.
''Tyler, we've chased him around three years and he's just kind of run over us. He's a heckuva player,'' Blue Eagles coach Mark Batton said. ''He's a tailback playing quarterback, and he did a great job throwing it.
''They ended up scoring on us there, and we should have had him.''
Magnolia cut into a 34-18 lead on a controversial call as quarterback Tyler Hanna tossed the ball to receiver Stephen Rogalski out of the backfield. Everyone in a Seminoles uniform assumed it was a forward pass and stopped, allowing Rogalski to scoop the ball and score from 29 yards.
''I'll have to look at it on film, but I thought it was a forward pass,'' Circosta said. ''But our kids made a major mistake and stopped when the whistle didn't blow.
''You never do that.''
The Seminoles got on the board first when Kinchen found Korey Lafferre all alone over the middle from 32 yards out late in the first. They made it 14-0 when Curtis Nixon scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns, this one from 25 yards.
But Magnolia trimmed the lead to 20-12 by halftime, thanks to a Hanna-to-Rogalski 16-yard scoring strike, and the second of three TD passes for the Blue Eagles junior, a 5-yarder to Ryan Walton with 43.1 left.
''I thought it was huge that we came out the second half and scored on that first drive and then we got a stop, which I think might have been the only one of the night,'' Circosta said.
The Noles wasted little time putting together an authoritative march as Kinchen broke around right end for 40 yards on the first play after halftime. He accounted for 53 of the 63 yards, carrying over for the final 5 to make it 27-12.
Kinchen then did his Houdini escape act to find Hogue to push the lead to 34-12.
''Monroe Central, that's one heckuva football team. Kinchen makes them go and Hogue does a great job. And their offensive line just plays so well,'' Batton said. ''We talked afterward and said 'that's three losses. If you have any aspirations of playing Game 11, then you better pick it up here.'
''You're going to pretty well have to run the table.''
Hanna finished 23 of 32 for 190 yards for the Blue Eagles, and Rogalski had nine catches for 100 yards. Jayson Keller added a 3-yard touchdown reception.
''I thought we may give them a touch or two, but I just wasn't satisfied defensively at all,'' Circosta said. ''Thank God we put a lot of points on the board.''