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Blue Eagles Crush Valley-Fayette

Greyhounds have no answer for Keller, Smith

November 17, 2013
By DAVE MORRISON - Staff Writer ( , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

CHARLESTON - The play pretty much summed up the whole afternoon.

For No. 14 seed Magnolia, and No. 3 seed Valley.

The Blue Eagles' Drew Keller took a hand off from quarterback Jacob Brill and almost immediately found himself surrounded by a pack of Greyhounds.

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No problem.

Keller simply spun out of it, and 13 yards later had a touchdown that gave Magnolia a 28-8 with 1:52 left in the first half.

Magnolia went on to run over, around and through the previously unbeaten Hounds en route to a 42-16 victory in the first round of the West Virginia Class A football playoffs Saturday at sunny Laidley Field.

The Blue Eagles ran, and then ran some more, and never really let up.

Magnolia (7-4) rolled up 449 yards on the ground, led by their all-state senior Keller, who had 239 yards on 36 carries and three touchdowns. Eric Smith added 121 yards, on end around plays, one of which went 68 yards for a touchdown.

Brill had 79 and two touchdowns on nine carries.

"We wanted to keep them guessing a little bit, and I thought those three did a really good job of executing what we wanted to run," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. "I thought our line did an excellent job of controlling the line of scrimmage.

Keller's play simply epitomized the afternoon.

"We just didn't tackle," Valley coach Benny Hopkins said. "They have a good team. Keller is a great runner, and we knew he was. We had him one time for a 5-yard loss and he scores a touchdown. We just didn't do a good job wrapping up and making tackles."

"That's Drew," Batton said. "He's a hard kid to bring down. He has a strong upper body and what happened there was they hit him high. And he just slipped out of it."

Magnolia established its dominance from the start, taking the opening kickoff and going 58 yards, capped by a 1-yard run by Brill.

A 16-yard run by Keller on the first play of the game set the tempo, and Smith added a 19-yard run on the drive.

That was only the start.

After holding Valley to three-and-out, Smith went the distance, 68 yards, on third-and-5.

"I'll tell you what, they are a lot quicker than we thought they were," Hopkins said. "We knew all about Keller, and he has some quickness, but that Smith kid kind of came out of nowhere. We didn't see that much of that on film."

Even when things seemed to go the Hounds' way, Magnolia got breaks to keep the momentum.

When the Hounds downed a punt at the 1, Magnolia changed the field position, driving to the 42 before punting. However, the Greyhounds muffed the punt and Kage Rohde fell on it at the 27.

A few plays later Keller scored from a yard out to make it 21-0.

Valley (10-1) finally got on the board 10-yard run by Henrey Barron-Houchins, but Magnolia came back and scored on Keller's late touchdown to lead 28-8.

Any chance Valley seemed to have came on the first drive of the second half, when the Greyhounds ran the kickoff back into Magnolia territory and drove all the way to the 1. However, quarterback Raeshawn Breckenridge fumbled into the end zone and Kyle Ritz recovered it.

"That was big," Batton said. "I had struggled all week with who to kick it to because they have so much speed and there wasn't a weak spot back there in their return game. To hold them there, that gave us the mometum back and we were able to chew four or five mnutes off the clock."

Keller then keyed an 80-yard march with six carries on a 10-play drive, finishing it off with a 3-yard run.

The teams traded scores in the fourth, Brill scoring from a yard out and Valley scoring on a 23-yard pass from Breckenridge to Druw Bowen.

Breckenridge had 190 yards but only netted 115 after 75 yards in losses. He also completed 8 of 14 for 111 yards.

Keller finished 10 carries shy of the Class A record of 46.

"I'll tell you what, that is a sleeper team right there," Hopkins said. "I can see them going to the championship game. They are a good team."

"I don't know about that, we are just happy to get this one against a good Valley-Fayette team and move on," Batton siad.

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