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 off-side 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 Magnolia 40, Van 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 now host No. 8 Williamstown next week for a quarterfinal match-up on a day that will be decided by the SSAC. Williamstown topped Pocahontas County, 21-14, also Saturday night.
The box score and statistics will be posted as soon as the newspaper receives them.
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @fcpace62 on Twitter.