Magnolia Tastes Victory Once Again
NEW MARTINSVILLE — Over the course of 14 consecutive games Magnolia has struggled to score points, pile up yardage and eventually win football games all leading to a school-record losing streak.
That all changed Friday night as the Blue Eagles turned the tables on all three of those facets and used hard-nosed, smash-mouth football to pound a stunned, and previously unbeaten, Frontier squad.
Junior Marcus Barnes (14 carries, 140 yards) and senior Jason Beisel (22-122) paced a high-powered rushing attack that racked up 365 total yards and freshman Kaden Johnson did his part on defense with a fumble recovery and a pick-six as the Blue Eagles blasted the Cougars by a 40-8 margin in front of a boisterous Homecoming crowd on Bill Stewart Stadium at Alumni Field.
The victory was the first for Magnolia since a shocking 21-12 victory over eventual West Virginia Class A state champion Wheeling Central on Nov. 2, 2018.
“We had a good week of practice coming off losses to three pretty good football teams,” an elated Dave “Doc” Chapman said. “These kids deserve this, and they earned it. I am so very proud of them right now. This is all about them, not about me. I also want to thank our crowd which was louder than they have been in a while and believe me, our kids fed off that.”
After allowing one first down and forcing a punt, Magnolia’s offense peeled over four minutes off the clock with an impressive eight-play, 74-yard drive that produced the first points of the night. The drive featured four runs each from seniors Silas McKeever and Beisel, with McKeever covering the final five yards at the 5:09 mark. Brendan Mirandy’s PAT made it 7-0.
Magnolia was set up for business again a short time later when Frontier quarterback JD Schmidt took a jarring hit on a 21-yard sack and fumbled with Johnson recovering and taking the ball to the Cougars’ 15. Beisel went for 12 on first down with McKeever again doing the honors with a three-yard burst through the middle of the line at 2:39 for a quick 14-0 advantage.
Magnolia’s next drive was a well-executed 12-play, 82-yard march, however, it did come at a price. McKeever’s eighth carry of the half took the ball to the Frontier 7 but turned out to be his final of the game after coming up with a lower leg injury. Magnolia did convert both a fourth and third down inside the 10 with senior Charlie Powell busting in from a yard out at 5:32 for a 21-0 reading.
It didn’t take the Cougars long to answer, thanks in large part to a long pass and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the same play. Schmidt found sophomore Lucas Cox for a 37-yard bomb, that appeared to come down in the hands of Beisel, and the two penalties moved the ball all the way to the 12. On the very next play, and just 18 seconds after the hosts scored, Slade Amos mowed down the final 12 yards for the score at 5:14. Noah Barnhart’s two-point run, following a pass interference call, cut the margin to 21-8.
The Blue Eagles finished the half with 189 yards, all on the ground, while limiting Frontier to just 85 total stripes, and just four yards rushing.
Magnolia did not let its foot off the gas in the third, using a 63-yard Barnes run to set up a five-yard touchdown pass from Mirandy to junior Damon Shimp on the endline at 9:30 of the third. The point-after failed but it was 27-8. Mirandy also threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Samuel Zambotti in the third. The touchdowns were his only two completions of the night.
Just four plays after a 28-yard field goal attempt sailed wide for the Eagles Johnson tipped a Schmidt pass and picked it off before rumbling 27 yards for the final points of the night.
“We haven’t been putting a lot of Kaden’s (Johnson) plate the first few games, but he has worked his tail off and after (Friday) he knows he belongs,” Chapman said. “He grew up a little and proved that hard work pays off. But the bottom line here is that our offensive and defensive lines dominated a pretty good football team. They were solid.
“It’s the way we used to play here at Magnolia. We talked about controlling the lines and geared up to stop their run and the kids came out and made that happen. It would have been easy for our kids to think we are 0-3 and here comes 4-0 to town, but that is not how these kids work. Credit to Mirandy for being prepared to come in and run our offense when Silas (McKeever) went down as well.”
While Magnolia finished with 387 total yards of offense, Frontier had 149, including only 14 yards rushing.
“A couple of plays here or there early on could have made a difference, but give Magnolia credit, they were physical and had a great game-play,” Russ Morris said. “Sometimes you have a bad day and we had one (Friday). Now it all comes down to how we handle things and making sure we can get back to being us next week.
“I believe we will be ready to go and ready for the playoffs as well. Our kids hung together, and we definitely have things to work on. But our motto is ‘We are one’, and that implies to losing as much as it does winning.”
Barnes rushed for 132 of his 140 in the second half while 98 of Beisel’s came during the first 24 minutes.
Magnolia 40, Frontier 8
Frontier 0 8 0 0 — 8
Magnolia 14 7 13 6 — 40
M — McKeever 5 run (Mirandy kick), 5:09
M — McKeever 3 run (Mirandy kick), 2:39
M — Powell 1 run (Mirandy kick), 5:32
F — Amos 12 run (Barnhart run), 5:14
M — Shimp 5 pass from Mirandy (kick failed), 9:30
M — Benson 17 pass from Mirandy (Mirandy kick), 5:41
M — Johnson 27 interception return (kick failed), 7:25
Rushing: Frontier 18-14-1 (Amos 8-26-td; Barnhart 7-17; Schmidt 2-(-28); Cox 1-(-1)). Magnolia 57-365-3 (Beisel 22-122; McKeever 8-64-2; Barnes 14-140; Johnson 2-25; Powell 6-20-td; Vargo 5-(-6)).
Passing: Frontier 7-26-135-0-x (all by Schmidt). Magnolia 2-4-22-2-x (all by Mirandy).
Receiving: Frontier 7-135) (Barnhart 1-14; Cox 3-67; Amos 3-54). Magnolia 2-22-2 (Shimp 1-5-td; Benson 1-17-td)
First Downs: Frontier 11; Magnolia 19.
Penalties: Frontier 7-36; Magnolia 10-92.
Fumbles: Frontier 3-1; Magnolia 0-0.