NEW MARTINSVILLE — A slow start for the Van Bulldogs and a fast start for the Magnolia Blue Eagles pretty much determined the outcome of the West Virginia Class A playoff game Saturday night between the No. 16 verses the No. 1 ranked teams.
Magnolia (12-0) remained unbeaten on the season after defeating Van (7-4), 54-22 in New Martinsville.
The Blue Eagles scored on the first offensive possession of the game after driving all the way down field out of the shotgun formation.
With 8:49 on the first quarter clock, Magnolia scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass. They added the extra point kick and had a 7-0 lead.
Van changed its lineup and had Tyler Stewart at quarterback and Logan Crouse at wide receiver. Nearly all season, Crouse had been the Bulldogs’ quarterback and Stewart played receiver.
After Van’s Philip Howell made a good return to the 36-yard line, fullback Greg Lail carried the ball to the 40-yard line. Stewart then hit tight end Cole Price for 11 yards and the Bulldogs first drive was looking good as they advance the ball to Magnolia’s side of the field.
A personal foul and an offside penalties moved the ball to the Blue Eagles 30-yard line.
Stewart attempted to pass the ball for the rest of the drive, but was sacked on one play and on a fourth-and-long threw an incomplete pass. Magnolia took over on downs and mounted another drive.
Magnolia got off to its fast start after scoring again on the second drive on a 16-yard touchdown run. The two Blue Eagle touchdowns and successful extra point kicks gave them a 14-0 first quarter lead.
Van opened up the second quarter going three and out on offense and had to punt from its own 25-yard line. Van’s star running back Brady Grant was keyed on the entire game by Magnolia and Price was double covered nearly the entire game. Grant and Price had accounted for most of the Bulldogs’ offensive yards in the regular season.
With 10:47 in the second quarter, Magnolia scored on a 6-yard run. Another successful extra point kick built the lead to 21-0. By halftime, the score was 40-0.
With 2:18 left in the third quarter, Van finally got on the scoreboard. The Bullodgs were unable to shutdown Magnolia and the third quarter ended with Magnolia on top, 54-8.
Van dominated the fourth quarter with 163 yards on the ground and cut the lead to 54-22, but it was not enough to overcome the huge early lead by Magnolia.
Magnolia will host No. 8 Williamstown next week for a quarterfinal matchup on a day that will be decided by the SSAC. Williamstown topped Pocahontas County, 21-14, also Saturday night.
St. Marys 23,
BUFFALO — Class A No. 11 St. Marys (9-2) held on to beat No. 6 Buffalo (10-1) 23-21 on Friday night.
St. Marys led 23-7 at the half, and withstood a Buffalo rally in the second half.
The Bison scored with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter to tighten the game at 23-21 — the two-point try to tie the game failed as Jaiden Smith intercepted the pass, preserving St. Marys’ lead and ultimate win.
Wheeling Central 42,
Pendleton County 28
WHEELING — Wheeling Central scored 28 second half points as it defeated Pendleton County, 42-28 in the first round of the West Virginia Class A playoffs at Bishop Schmitt Field at Wheeling Jesuit University on Saturday.
Isaac Rine went 8-of-11 for 139 yards and three scores while John Burkhalter hauled in two of those touchdowns. Burkhalter finished with four catches for 90 yards and found the end zone on an 11-yard rush.
Kevin Keane scored as time expired in the second half and the Maroon Knights converted on the two-point conversion to tie the score at 14-14.
Luke Cooper ran for two scores and threw for another for the Wildcats. Logan Cooper caught a touchdown for Pendleton County as well. Logan Cooper led the rushing attack with 81 yards for Pendleton County.
Dom Stevenson tallied 76 yards on the ground to lead the way for the Maroon Knights, and caught a touchdown pass.
Next up for Wheeling Central is East Hardy. The Cougars are coming off a comeback victory against Bishop Donahue.
East Hardy 23,
Bishop Donahue 20
No. 15 Bishop Donahue had the Cougars in check with a 20-0 lead, but No. 2 East Hardy made the right moves scoring 23 unanswered points for a 23-20 checkmate victory in the first round of the state playoffs in Baker on Saturday.
Moving pieces around the board is game of strategy in chess and with football, creating the right plays on the gridiron follows a similar pattern.
J.C. Custer broke tackles for his second touchdown with a minute and change left in the second half to boost the Bishops to a 20-0 advantage.
East Hardy finally posted points as Brett Tharp got free from tackles and scored on a 43-yard reception with under a minute in the half and added the conversion, 20-8.
The score remained the same until just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter when East Hardy’s Corey McDonald scored on a keeper, 20-15.
Bryce Strawderman scored the game-winner on a four yard diving catch with 4:36 remaining and Tharp notched the conversion for a 23-20 score.
Teddy Cassell and Dalton Dotson combined for a sack on fourth down to seal the Cougars win.
Pocahontas County 14
WILLIAMSTOWN — Trenton Tallman had a trio of first-quarter rushing touchdowns here Saturday night for host Williamstown, but the Yellowjackets finished the game with their third-string quarterback following a 21-14 victory against Pocahontas County.
The No. 8 Yellowjackets, now 9-2 with a road game upcoming at No. 1 Magnolia, led for good on Tallman’s 14-yard touchdown scamper. Tallman, who rushed 17 times for 133 yards, also had TDs of 39 and 7 yards before leaving the game in the second quarter via injury. Backup signal-caller Mason Adkins also left the contest due to injury and Yellowjacket Carter Haynes played the entire fourth quarter.
Wyatt Workman had a 35-yard touchdown run in the opening period and J.D. Hensler grabbed a 45-yard scoring strike from Workman to set both the halftime and final score.
The Warriors, who threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, exit the postseason with an 8-3 record. Dalton Irvine (12-97) and Workman (17-84) paced the ground attack.
Meadow Bridge 20
Wil Schoonover tied a first-round playoff record with six rushing touchdowns while guiding Moorefield to a 42-20 victory over the Wildcats at Yellow Jacket Field on Friday night.
The previous record was set back in 1996 by Moorefield alum Jake Metheny. Meadow Bridge (7-4) and Moorefield (10-1) have been known for the ground attack and the Yellow Jackets swarmed the gridiron with 345 yards compared to 186.
Schoonover accounted for 169 yards on 30 carries and surpassed the 2,000-yard season milestone, while Shane Harless guided the Wildcats with 31 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
Both squads met in the first round of the 2013 state playoffs with Moorefield winning 22-16. Gusts of wind carried the sounds of the cow bells and disrupted any passing plans as both teams combined for 26 yards.
There was no scoring in the first quarter, then the Yellow Jackets soared to a 21-8 lead by halftime on three scores by Schoonover. Moorefield outscored Meadow Bridge 21-12 in the second half.
South Harrison 53,
Valley Wetzel 12
LOST CREEK — Class A No. 3 South Harrison ran for 382 yards as the Hawks cruised past No. 14 Valley Wetzel, 53-12, to advance to the Class A state quarterfinals.
Senior Chase Jenkins carried the ball 13 times for 97 yards and three scores for the Hawks, while sophomore Camden Barnette picked up a game-high 178 yards on 17 carries and reached the end zone once.
Valley Wetzel quarterback Trey Streets, who set a school record for rushing yards Friday night, was held to 71 rushing yards on 24 carries but completed 9-of-23 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in the loss.
South Harrison will take on No. 11 St. Marys next week, a rematch of an earlier matchup in the regular season that the Hawks won 20-13.