NEW MARTINSVILLE - Magnolia didn't have its best stuff. A couple of defensive miscues, dropped balls in the end zone and stalled drives kept the Blue Eagles from putting East Hardy away Saturday during their West Virginia Class A quarterfinal Saturday at Alumni Field.
Even then, the Magnolia defense stood tall, pressuring East Hardy quarterback Shawn Skovron all night and the Blue Eagles survived with a 19-14 victory.
Magnolia plays Wahama next week in the semifinals. The date and time will be determined today.
Magnolia’s Stephen Rogalski (5) runs past East Hardy’s Levi Beck on Saturday night.
PHOTO BY ALEX KOZLOWSKI
''You just watched two teams play their hearts out and put everything they had into that ball game,'' Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. ''We are just tickled to death to come out of here with a win. East Hardy is a good football team and we knew that.
''We watched them, broke them down on film and knew they had talent. We knew they played with lot of heart.''
Magnolia was up 13-0 following two quarterback sneaks by Tanner Hanna in the first half, but it could have been much more.
Senior standout Stephen Rogalski, one of the top players in the state, beat the East Hardy defense and dropped a sure touchdown. Five plays later Kyle Ritz did the same thing. The drive was halted at the East Hardy 13 on downs.
The Blue Eagles held the Cougars to 13 offensive yards for the first 23:30 of the first half. But East Hardy went into the locker room feeling good about itself as Josh Parker made a play on an underthrown ball by Skovron. Rogalski and Ryan Walton collided going for the ball, and Parker raced the final 40 yards for a touchdown, a play covering 72 yards to put the Cougars down 13-6.
''We moved the ball and just had a couple miscues,'' Batton said. ''The next thing we know, we come out and get nothing out of it. We are moving the ball up and down the field and not getting any points out of it.
''We were concerned. The kids knew they were in control and just had to stay that way. You are not going to keep Josh Parker down the whole game.''
Added East Hardy coach Chad Williams: ''We got dominated in the first half and we came out in the second half and ran some stuff that wasn't necessarily in our game plan. We didn't have enough. They weren't going to let us big play them and they had a game plan on Levi Beck and shut him down. That is the best defensive plan I've seen against our offense in the five years I've been here.''
A three-and-out by East Hardy opened the third quarter and Magnolia regained control with a three-play drive that culminated in a 10-yard score by Kage Rohde on a delayed draw.
East Hardy answered right back with a nine-play, 85-yard drive with Skovron sneaking in from a yard out. The 2-point play was good and the Cougars trailed 19-14 with 5:53 left in the third quarter.
But that was all the scoring.
East Hardy made it to the Magnolia 22 midway through the fourth, but two incomplete passes and a rush for negative yardage halted the drive.
East Hardy went three-and-out on its next possession and despite stopping Magnolia after punting the ball back to the Blue Eagles, Hanna executed a perfect pooch kick that was downed on the 1.
Two plays later, Rogalski made a diving interception to end that threat.
East Hardy had one last chance with 6.5 seconds left but the hook and lateral was bobbled and Rogalski came up with the loose ball.
Skovron, who threw for more than 300 yards against Wheeling Central last week, was sacked four times and intercepted twice.
''They are quick up front and had some quick schemes,'' Williams said. ''I thought they gambled some with the straight man coverage but they just got in there so doggone fast there was nothing we could do about it.''
Hanna threw for 90 yards, while Rogalski have five catches for 35. Rohde was the leading rusher for the Blue Eagles with 67 yards.