Magnolia put forth a balanced effort in its 39-15 win over rival Magnolia West at Mustang Stadium on Friday night.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 4-2) totaled 469 yards of offense in the win. Quarterback Travis Moore completed 9 of 18 passes for 199 yards and added 81 yards on the ground. Tailback Mitch Hall, who’s already surpassed the 1,500-yard mark and leads the district in rushing, had 162 yards on 25 carries.
“I’m very proud of the kids — thought they played their guts out,” first-year Magnolia coach Craig Martin said. “It’s a rivalry game, so you kind of throw all the stats and records out the window. It was a great environment to play football in and we had a beautiful night with football season weather. Our kids played their guts out and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Magnolia West (5-4, 4-2) struggled to complete drives in the first half and fell into a hole.
“We were just up and down,” first-year Mustangs coach Blake Joseph said. “We didn’t finish drives in the first half — we left two touchdowns out there in the first half. We were leaving points on the board. It’s pretty frustrating because we’ve been pretty consistent offensively all year long. When you let drives slip away from you, it’s hard to win games like that.”
Entering the night, Magnolia West averaged 451 yards per game. The hosts were held to 340 yards in the loss and a season-low point total.
Magnolia took a 22-9 lead into halftime thanks in part to two big pass plays from Travis Moore to Ben Colligan.
The first, which broke the scoreless tie, found Colligan wide open for a 62-yard catch after a play action fake. The second, which ended first half scoring with 17 seconds to go in the second quarter, saw Moore roll right, then hit Colligan running up the left sideline.
“We call those special plays,” Martin said. “They’re not necessarily trick plays but they are special plays. We practice them every day and you have them in your back pocket for moments like these. Couldn’t be prouder of the way executed them. Sometimes you only get a chance to run those plays once a season.”
Magnolia West got on the board first with a safety with a group tackle led by Luke McCaffety. Following the safety, the Mustangs got to the 1-yard line and came up empty after being stuffed, flagged and having a field goal attempt blocked.
On the night, both teams were penalized for more than 100 yards. Magnolia had 10 penalties for 103 yards. Magnolia West had 11 for 115, including six personal fouls.
“It impacted it some,” Joseph said. “On crucial downs we were getting penalties or sometimes the ball wasn’t going our way, but that’s just part of the game. We’ll look at the tape and evaluate how the officials officiated tonight.”
A 24-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Ben Renfro extended the Magnolia lead with seven minutes to go in the half.
The Mustangs cut their 15-2 deficit to 15-9 about five minutes later. Tristan Brady scrambled for 18 yards to make up some lost yardage, then hit Trey Leggett for a 10-yard score on the next play.
Brady was 12 of 21 for 149 yards and rushed for 39 yards. Leggett was his top target with four catches for 50 yards. Nick Joseph led the rushing effort with 87 yards on five carries.
Magnolia added to its lead in the later stages of the third quarter when Moore connected with Gavin Mason for a 14-yard score. Ernie Mendoza made it 32-9 with 8:41 to play with his 31-yard field goal.
Joseph’s 72-yard rushing touchdown capped the scoring for Magnolia West less than a minute later.
Hall found the end zone from five yards out with 4:59 to play to end the night’s scoring.
Both teams hold a one-game lead on fifth-place Tomball in the 8-5A (Div. I) standings and defeated the Cougars, so the Bulldogs and Mustangs are playoff-bound along with first-place Lufkin. Week 11 will determine the seeding.
Magnolia wraps up its regular season at home against Caney Creek on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Magnolia West heads to College Station on the same night at the same time and will try to snap a two-game skid.
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