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Rose-Burton does it all as Monroe topples Magnolia

NEW MARTINSVILLE — Malachi Rose-Burton did a little bit of everything for Monroe Central Friday night as the Seminoles defeated Magnolia 43-19.

Rose-Burton, a senior quarterback and safety, scored five touchdowns on offense and grabbed three interceptions on defense to lead the Seminoles.

“(Rose-Burton) is as good as I’ve seen,” Magnolia coach Dave Chapman said. “I’m not saying he’s the best, but he’s on the short list of guys that I’ve seen. He’s at another level, he’s in another gear.”

On offense, Rose-Burton completed 9-of-17 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns and ran 13 times for 134 yards and two more scores. On defense, he picked off Magnolia quarterback Brendan Mirandy three times, twice in the endzone.

“I came out with the mentality that we needed a win,” Rose-Burton said. “I’ve always been a team player and I just wanted to do whatever I can to put my team in the best position to win.”

Rose-Burton got the scoring started early, finding receiver Carter Knowlton from 22 yards out for a touchdown in the first quarter. Magnolia quickly responded with a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Kayden Johnson to tie the game at 6-6, but offensive miscues spoiled the Blue Eagles’ night.

On Magnolia’s next drive, a Mirandy pass was tipped over the middle and fell into the arms of Rose-Burton. On the ensuing drive, Rose-Burton scored on the ground from a yard out.

Magnolia’s next drive ended with a fumble caused by a bad snap. Monroe capitalized with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Rose-Burton to receiver Dillon Lincoln.

Penalties and another bad snap ruined Magnolia’s next drive and, following a punt, the Seminoles made them pay again with Rose-Burton connecting with Lincoln for a 56-yard score on the first play of the drive.

“It seemed like every time we got something going there was a bad snap that set us back,” Chapman said. “We’ve never had this issue. We work on it every day, I can’t put my finger on it. It was just one of those nights.”

The Blue Eagles started to show some life near the end of the half as Marcus Barnes ran for a 17-yard touchdown and the Blue Eagles defense recovered a Monroe fumble deep in Seminole territory with less than a minute to play. That scoring chance was snuffed out, however, as Rose-Burton intercepted Mirandy in the endzone as time expired for his second pick of the night.

“He’s a ballhawk back there in the middle of the field,” Monroe coach Josh Ischy said. “He can use that athleticism and does a tremendous job of playing sideline-to-sideline. Anytime the ball was hung up in the air, he went out and snatched it.”

All told, Monroe Central went into halftime leading 28-12.

Rose-Burton added another rushing touchdown in the third quarter, this one from 15 yards out, to put the Seminoles up 36-12. Magnolia’s offense was able to move the ball, but the Blue Eagles’ mistakes made it so they were not able to mount a serious comeback. Rose-Burton picked up his third interception of Mirandy to start the fourth quarter, again in the endzone. Magnolia lost another possession when a bad snap resulted in a negative-24 yard play and a third possession was thrown away when a receiver fumbled the ball trying to move up field.

“We didn’t do anything to help ourselves tonight,” Chapman said. “On offense, it seemed like we were always behind the chains.”

“(Aggression) was a point of emphasis this week in practice, playing aggressive, more physical football and I think we did tonight,” Ischy said. “I don’t know how we looked execution-wise until I watch film, but we were much more aggressive.”

Backup quarterback Tucker Howell threw a 32-yard touchdown to Knowlton with less than four minutes left to ice the game. It was Howell’s second completion in the game. His first came on a double-pass trick play in the first half. Rose-Burton threw the ball backwards to Howell, who leaked left out of the backfield. With three defenders bearing down on him, Howell hit Knowlton down field for a 28-yard gain. Ischy said it was their first time running the play in-game this season and was a little iffy on the play call afterward.

“We didn’t get quite the look I thought so it was probably a bad call but the guys made it look good,” Ischy said with a laugh. “Tucker Howell threw a great ball and then Cater Knowlton made a great catch. They made the call look good.”

Mirandy finished 9-of-16 for 89 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Barnes ran 10 times for 52 yards and a score. Johnson had 19 carries for 112 yards and a TD and made six receptions for 42 yards.

Vargo had two catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.

For Monroe, Howell finished 2-for-2 passing for 60 yards and a touchdown, ran 10 times for 45 yards and caught a pass for nine yards. Lincoln caught three passes for 82 yards and two scores and Knowlton made two receptions for 62 yards and two touchdowns of his own.

Friday’s win was an important one for Monroe Central (2-3), who have stumbled a bit out of the gate this season and did not play last week due to COVID concerns.

“We prepared real hard last week and then on the day of the game it got cancelled,” Ischy explained. “It was unfortunate. For these seniors, it’s their last go-around so any game we miss like that is tremendous. To come out here and play a quality-coached team with some good players, get a win and play as well as we did tonight, it’s nothing but good feelings.”

For the Magnolia (1-2), it was the first time the Blue Eagles had seen the field in two weeks as the high school had moved to 10 days of remote learning earlier this month.

Monroe Central will celebrate homecoming next week by hosting Shenandoah and Magnolia will stay home and host Union Local.

“We’ll continue to work,” Chapman said. “We’re a good football team, I’m not going to bail on these kids after this game tonight because we’ve got a quality team.”

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