Magnolia stunned Little Rock Christian on Friday, outpacing their hosts in a wild 52-49 non-conference football victory.
The Panthers (2-1) made the most of four pass interceptions while the Warriors (2-1) took an early 14-0 lead that included a 98-yard scoop-n-score.
Magnolia finished the 2019 season with a 7-4 record, including a 63-34 Class 5A first round playoff loss to eventual state champion Pulaski Academy. PA, which lost to LRCA during the 2019 regular season, beat the Warriors 63-21 in the state championship game.
Two weeks ago, Magnolia lost to Harrison 42-35 in a game played at LRCA. PA beat Harrison in the second round of the 2019 playoffs.
Magnolia beat Crossett last week. The Eagles reached the Class 4A semi-finals in 2019.
So, through three games, Magnolia under second-year head coach Mark King has suddenly emerged as a force in Class 5A.
The Panthers host their first home game of 2020 at 7 p.m. Friday against Class 6A El Dorado. It’s a non-conference game against the Wildcats, who are 0-2 after non-conference losses to Camden Fairview (45-20) and Cabot (41-23).
Little Rock Christian led 14-0 in the first quarter after Titus Colquitt returned a Magnolia fumble 98 yards for a touchdown.
Magnolia got on the board with a touchdown pass from Tanner Neilson to Kendrick Carey. Jay Todd Baker kicked the first of seven extra points from Neilson’s hold.
After Magnolia turned over the ball on downs at the Christian 20 early in the second quarter, Jordan Davis intercepted Warriors quarterback Eli Cooper and returned the ball to the Christian 22. Garrion Curry scored on an 8-yard run to tie the game.
LCRA retook the lead on a 48-yard touchdown reception from Cooper to Isaiah Hankins. Hankins kicked all of LRCA’s PATs.
Davis got his second interception of the night and it was huge – a 52-yard touchdown to tie the game 21-21 with 52 seconds left in the half.
Robert Mack snagged another Cooper pass and returned it 26 yards to the LRCA 4. Javorrea Murphy ran for a score on the next play.
Kendrick Carey scored an 80-yard touchdown after taking a pitch from Neilson, slipping the grasp of a defender at midfield, and side-stepping three Warriors near the 15 to sprint into the end zone. Magnolia led 35-21.
Christian returned another fumble for a touchdown when the Warriors Corey Platt Jr. picked up a snap that went between Neilson’s ankles. Platt scooped the ball on the run and hustled 64 yards for the score.
Curry scored his second touchdown in dramatic fashion. He swept around to the left side line and somehow managed to stay in bounds, while eluding no less than five Warriors who either touched him or tried to bring him down. Magnolia led 42-28 with 2:30 to play in the third quarter.
Christian got right back into the game. Cooper scored on a 23-yard run, and the Warriors followed up by recovering an onside kick at the Magnolia 49.
Ben Ridings scored on a 23-yard run for Christian with 10:17 to play.
Magnolia ground out a 64-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 26-yard field goal off the right hash mark by Jay Todd Baker with 4:42 to play.
Faced with a fourth and 5 at its own 25, Christian’s Cooper scrambled while trying to find a receiver. He was finally chased down from behind by Kendrick Carey after a two-yard gain – not enough for a first down. Christian drew a personal foul at the end of the play and the Panthers had the ball at the Warriors 13.
Magnolia’s final score came on a 10-yard pass from Neilson to Garrion Curry with 2:14 left.
Little Rock Christian closed the score to 52-49 with 1:12 remaining on an 11-yard pass from Cooper to Hankins.
Magnolia recovered the onside kick but had to punt with 5 seconds left. Christian was unable to move the football and time expired.