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Weekend Wrap: Magnolia Battling Back After a Tough Start

October 8, 2013
By DAVE MORRISON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

NEW MARTINSVILLE - .Nobody needed a victory more than Magnolia, which was sitting at 2-3 entering Friday's game with Monroe Central.

The Blue Eagles got it.

Behind Drew Keller, who had a monster game, Magnolia beat the Seminoles 32-8.

It was just what the doctor ordered for a team that, for all intents and purposes, was nine points from being 4-1 or even 5-0 entering the game.

Keller had 148 yards and a touchdown - no to mention a game-changing 94-yard run on which he was brought down at the Monroe Central 1 - an interception he returned 40 yards for a touchdown and a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.

"He was a touchdown reception from hitting for the cycle," coach Mark Batton said after the game.

It sets up an interesting scenario for the next couple of weeks.

Magnolia plays host to Weir this week ahead of a key game at St. Mary's (currently 5-0 and coming off a huge victory against previously undefeated Williamstown). Williamstown, of course, got a late field goal to knock off Magnolia 15-14 in Week 2.

That, combined with a season-opening 14-7 loss to a talented Linsly team and a 27-20 loss to Wheeling Central (only loss is to powerhouse Madonna) had Magnolia behind the eight ball.

The Central game was especially crushing, after Magnolia had lined up for a potential game-winning field goal only to have it blocked and returned for a touchdown.

"I'm just proud of the kids for bouncing back from a devastating loss, having a good week of practice and then play well," Batton said.

Keller said the playoffs have already started for a Magnolia team that is used to winning football games.

"Most teams start the playoffs after Week 10," the senior returning all-stater said. "We know we are in a situation where we have to win every game just to have a chance to make the playoffs. That's the way we are approaching it. For us, the playoffs started tonight and we know what we have to do."

If you are planning on buying a lottery ticket, you might want to call on Wheeling Central's Mike Young.

He is dialing up all the right numbers in the Maroon Knights' 5-1 start.

Central has victories of 1, 6, 7 and now 2 points, the last three coming in a row.

The latest thriller was the Maroon Knights keeping a determined Kiski team out of the end zone on what would have been a game-tying two-point conversion with 22 seconds left. Central also held Kiski without a point on two trips inside the 10 in the second half.

Wheeling Park and Morgantown had little trouble before their tune-ups for this week's meeting in Morgantown.

For the record, Morgantown's Chazzy Thomas, who is a leading candidate for the Kennedy Award at this point, went off for a Monongalia County-record 386 yards and six touchdowns in a 52-21 victory against Dubois Area High School..

Morgantown's lone loss was to Martinsburg's dynastic juggernaut earlier this year at Cobourn Field in Martinsburg.

Park had little trouble handling East Liverpool 52-0, on 7 of 10 passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns by Zach Phillips and 90 yards and two touchdowns from Bryce Ingram.

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