Magnolia secured a trip to the Class 5A football playoffs on Friday night, beating Hope 42-14.
The Panthers will be a No. 3 seed in the tournament. They will travel to No. 2 seed Pulaski Academy (6-1, 8-2) for a first-round game at 7 p.m. Friday.
The status of starting senior quarterback Braelyn Beasley is problematic. Beasley was thrown to the turf early in the first quarter and temporarily knocked out. His condition will be observed through the week with a decision made about his playing status later.
Junior quarterback Tanner Nielson stepped up and led Magnolia to its first touchdown.
Nielson threw a 22-yard pass to Sid Hampton for a touchdown with 1:23 to play in the first quarter. Jay Todd Baker kicked the extra point from Nielson’s hold.
Magnolia recovered a fumble on the kickoff, leading to the Panthers’ next score on a 23-yard run by sophomore Derayln Williams. Baker kicked the extra point.
Javorrea Murphy gave Magnolia a 21-0 lead on a 15-yard run early in the second quarter.
Hope scored in the third quarter with a 3-yard run by Jared Hamilton. The extra point was good.
Magnolia responded with a 24-yard Shawn Bell run with 3:05 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers’ defense widened Magnolia’s lead with 1:57 left in the third quarter when Kendrick Carey picked up a fumble and ran 50 yards for a touchdown and a 35-7 lead.
Derayln Williams Williams scored his second touchdown on a 4-yard run with 10:19 to play. Baker’s extra point gave Magnolia a 42-7 lead and activated the mercy rule.
A late Hope touchdown closed the score to 42-14.
Hope's season ended with a 1-6 conference record, 1-9 overall.
Magnolia ended the regular season with a five-game winning streak. It was the first time the Panthers have won five consecutive games since 2008.