Keller leads Magnolia to 42-16 win
CHARLESTON – Magnolia set a Class A playoff record for fewest passing yards in its first-round game against Valley (Fayette) Saturday afternoon at Laidley Field.
The bad thing about that for third-seeded Valley was that No. 14 seed Magnolia didn’t need to throw the ball. The Blue Eagles (7-4) used a 239-yard rushing performance from senior Drew Keller to run away from the previously-unbeaten Greyhounds (10-1) in a 42-16 rout.
“Drew’s really come up big for us, especially these last few weeks,” Magnolia head coach Mark Batton said. “Drew would be the first to tell you that the offensive line did one heck of a job. Kyle Ritz leading Drew through there was amazing. But Drew runs downhill and it makes it hard to stop him.”
The win was the third in a row for Magnolia after dropping to 4-4 with a last-second loss at St. Marys on Oct. 18. The Blue Eagles will play at No. 6 seed Moorefield (10-1) in the quarterfinals, at a date and time to be determined today.
Magnolia established itself quickly Saturday, taking the opening kickoff and marching 58 yards on eight plays with Keller carrying six times in the drive.
Senior Jake Brill dove into the end zone from the 1 on a quarterback sneak to give the Blue Eagles a lead they never gave up. Keller’s straight-ahead running style posed problems for the Valley defense all game. He carried 25 times in the first half alone as Magnolia built a 28-8 lead.
Wide receiver Eric Smith got into the running game as well, scoring on a 68-yard run in the first quarter. He finished with 120 of Magnolia’s 447 rushing yards.
“We didn’t tackle today, that’s the big thing right there,” Valley head coach Bennie Hopkins said. “I know we hit Keller one time for a five-yard loss and he ended up scoring a touchdown. Hey, they’ve got a good football team.
“They’ve lost three games by a field goal or so. I tell you, they’re a sleeper in Class A,” Hopkins said. “They were quicker than we thought they would be, to be honest with you.”
Valley, though, had a chance to get back into the game at the start of the second half.
Keyshawn Payne returned the second-half kickoff to the Magnolia 30, and a pass from Raeshawn Breckenridge to Drew Bowen gave the Greyhounds 1st-and-goal just inside the Magnolia 10.
On 4th-and-goal from the 3, Breckenridge coughed up the football and Ritz – the Blue Eagles’ standout defensive end – recovered for a touchback.
“That was huge. I struggled all week with who we were going to kick the ball to,” Batton said. “I couldn’t really find any weakness to kick to, and they got a great kickoff return. To get that defensive stop was big, and then I think we chewed off five or six minutes of clock after that.”
Magnolia took the ball after the touchback and drove 80 yards on 10 plays, and Keller capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to put the Eagles ahead 35-8.
Valley’s offense had a tough time getting any rhythm going in the game, and finished with 103 rushing yards on 28 carries. Breckenridge, who absorbed a 30-yard loss on fourth down in the game’s final minute, led the Greyhounds with 36 rushing yards on 18 attempts. He was 7-of-14 passing for 101 yards and a 23-yard touchdown completion to Druw Bowen.
Brill’s lone completion on his only pass attempt Saturday went for minus-1 yard to Keller to set a new opening-round record that was previously held by Meadow Bridge with zero yards passing in its game versus Greenbrier West last year.
Bishop Donahue 21, Man 16
MAN – When No. 12-seeded Bishop Donahue entered the West Virginia Class A playoffs, a lot of the talk was about the Bishops’ prolific offense. Not much was said about the defense.
Perhaps there still doesn’t need to be as the unit made a statement of its own Saturday as it collected eight sacks, all from the D-line, and three interceptions during a 21-16 victory over the No. 5-seeded Man Hillbillies.
And the Bishops’ offense did have its usually-good outing as junior quarterback Jesse Padlow connected on more than 50 percent of his passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns, with Jared Yates (5 receptions, 179 yards, 2 TDs of 88 and 80 yarsds) and Chaice Truex (7-129) being the main beneficiaries.
After the eatly 88-yard bomb to Yates, the Bishops (8-3) went up 15-0 as Padlow found Matt Vucelik in the flat for a 17-yard touchdown right before halftime. In the third quarter, Padlow found Yates again, this time for 80 yards on a post route to lead 21-0.
However, the Hillbillies rallied for a pair of TDs to pull within five, but could get no closer.
Spring Valley 0
MARTINSBURG – Malique Watkins threw two interceptions deep in Spring Valley territory on his first two attempts, but the Martinsburg quarterback more than made up for his errors by rushing for 204 yards and throwing for 84 as the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half for a 36-0 victory in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.
The three-time defending state champion Bulldogs led just 7-0 at halftime, courtesy of a 1-yard push by Watkins.
He started the second half by evading a rush and heaving a 25-yard pass that Tory Lee hauled in for a touchdown that gave second-seeded Martinsburg a 15-0 lead after the ensuring two-point conversion.
Watkins also ran for a 94-yard touchdown that was sandwiched between scoring runs of 50 and 8 yards by Deamonte Lindsay.
Lindsay rushed for 110 yards on 12 carries.
Martinsburg (10-1) outgained Spring Valley 477-142. The Timberwolves were held to 47 yards after halftime.
Spring Valley finished with a 5-4 record
Huntington 31, Lewis County 7
HUNTINGTON – Just when it appeared Lewis County had a glimmer of hope Saturday afternoon, Huntington High quarterback Clark Wilson and running back Charles Crawford crushed that upset spirit on one play.
The Minutemen picked off a Wilson pass late in the second period and took over at the Huntington 14. Three plays later, Dustin Martin raced nine yards around left end for a touchdown to tie the West Virginia Class AAA football first-round playoff game at 7-7.
After the kickoff, the Highlanders had the ball at their 34. On the first snap, Crawford ran a wheel route out of the backfield down the left sideline, went uncovered and Wilson dropped a perfect pass to the senior to complete a 66-yard momentum-changing touchdown for a 14-7 lead.
Huntington High scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter and converted a blocked punt by Arick Nicks into points just before the period ended. That burst paved the way for the No. 1 Highlanders to knock off the No. 16 Minutemen, 31-7, at Bob Sang Stadium.
Huntington High (11-0) will take on No. 8 George Washington at home next weekend in the quarterfinal round. The Patriots beat Oak Hilll, 21-14, in overtime Friday. Dates and times will be set Sunday. Lewis County finished 7-4.
Cabell Midland 35,
ONA – Cabell Midland used a pair of roundhouse blows to stagger Washington in the first round of the Class AAA football playoffs Saturday afternoon.
Then, the Knights used consistent body blows to take the air out of the Patriots.
It was all part of a 404-yard rushing day as Cabell Midland moved on in the postseason with a 35-6 win over the school from Charles Town, W.Va., that was playing in its first-ever playoff game.
No. 7 Cabell Midland (9-2) now gets a rematch of the 2012 Class AAA championship game when the Knights travel to No. 2 Martinsburg (10-1) for next week’s quarterfinal bout.
Leading by just one point late in the first half, Cabell Midland’s Donte Hendricks changed the complexion of the contest with a 96-yard touchdown run that stole the momentum from No. 10 Washington (7-4).
From the 4, Hendricks hit the hole on the left side at full speed and the speedy junior running back raced his way to the score, which fell just two yards shy of the Class AAA preliminary-round state record that was set by Capital’s Ricky Sherrod in 1996.