NEW MARTINSVILLE - Magnolia's second game in less than a week could not have started much different than the first.
Fortunately for Coach Mark Batton and his Blue Eagles, the second one ended a whole lot better than the previous one.
After watching a 14-0 halftime lead disappear in Week 1 against Linsly, the Blue Eagles built a 17-0 advantage at the break Friday night, overcame an early third-quarter uprising by fellow West Virginia Class A powerhouse Williamstown, and coasted to an impressive 24-7 victory against the Yellowjackets at raucous Alumni Field.
Magnolia’s Kage Rohde, left, runs with the ball as Williamstown’s Blake Eddy goes for a tackle.
Photo by Art Limann
Not only was it a game that evened Magnolia's record at 1-1, it was a huge night for the likes of seniors Stephen Rogalski, who further added his name to Blue Eagles football lore, and Tanner Hanna along with juniors Drew Keller and Kage Rohde.
Rogalski not only became just the second Magnolia player to pass the 3,000-yard receiving barrier for his career, he now stands three catches and 237 yards away from passing former great Kenny Fisher as the top Blue Eagles receiver in those respective categories.
''Stephen Rogalski is simply a playmaker,'' Batton said. ''You know, he is not a two-time All-State player for nothing. He is just a receiver who runs great routes, picks up big yards after the catch and is a tremendous player and kid to be around.
''I am just honored to be able to coach that kid.''
Both teams ran into unfortunate circumstances late in the third quarter as Williamstown fumbled a punt at its own 11 that was recovered by Magnolia. The Blue Eagles then converted a fourth down with a first-and-goal at the 1, only to fumble the ball into the end zone for a touchback.
Still clinging to a 17-7 advantage, it was Rogalski and Hanna who came up with a big play. Hanna nailed his 5-foot-11, 170-pound target over the middle near midfield, with Rogalski doing the rest to convert a 56-yard play down to the 7.
Two plays later, Hanna raced into the end zone from 6 yards away for the backbreaker, and a 24-7 lead with four minutes to play.
"Number 5 (Rogalski) was the best player on the field,'' Williamstown coach Terry Smith said. ''It seemed like we did something well and they would go to him and get a big play. Hold them on first and second down, and that kid makes a play on third.''
After an initial series in which Magnolia was flagged twice for motion penalties, the Blue Eagles got it going on offense on its next to possessions of the opening period.
The next time the hosts had the ball it took four plays to move 74 yards and grab the lead. There were three big plays on the march, a 19-yard Keller burst, a 17-yard hook-up from Hanna to Grant Cain and Kage Rohde's 31-yard touchdown run at 5:38 on a perfectly executed delay.
Exchange student Clemens Raitmayr booted the PAT for a 7-0 tally.
Things didn't get any easier on the Yellowjackets (1-1) defense the next time the Eagles took over. A seven-play, 59-yard drive was capped off by another Rohde run, this time from 4 yards out and with 19 ticks showing it was quickly 14-0.
Magnolia drove inside the enemy 10 again early in the second quarter, however, this time Big Blue was forced to settle for a 20-yard Raitmayr field goal and a 17-0 count.
Williamstown finally posted its initial three first downs late in the half, but that drive stalled at the hosts' 28 when Keller pounced on a fumble.
Batton's bunch dominated the stats as much as the scoreboard during the opening 24 minutes, racking up a whopping 292-51 difference.
That all changed two plays into the third quarter when junior David Hastings took a quick handoff up the gut and did not stop until he hit the end zone 63 yards later, and just 46 seconds in. Garrett Butler cut the deficit to 17-7.
"We got the nice halftime lead again, and then they came out and put one right up on the board and you have to start to wonder," Batton said. "We squandered a couple of scoring opportunities, which is something you can't do against them, but we got away with it (Friday).
"They came right out and got us, but we didn't give up and just kept plugging away. This is a great win for this team and this program. We talked last week about what happened against Linsly and how that could effect us, but we will be alright.
"Our defense played lights out in that first half also, but we figured they might answer in the third quarter and we would eventually have to stop them. But that is what my coaches do and I dare anyone to find a better coaching staff in the state than the one that I have here.''
For Smith it was a matter of the quicker team winning.
''They were just a lot quicker than us and they beat us off the ball,'' Smith said. ''We wanted to control the line, but we didn't and the better team won this game (Friday).
''They were so much better than us in the first quarter and that was the difference.''
Keller finished with 117 rushing stripes while Rohde made a pair of trips to the end zone. Hanna threw for 228 yards, with Rogalski hauling in 10 passes for 170 of those.