Magnolia accomplished two rare feats Friday night at Panther Stadium – it won a second consecutive football playoff game, and scored 76 points in a sport that’s not basketball.
Magnolia’s 76-55 win against Greenbrier, following last week’s 55-21 victory against Pea Ridge, marks the first time the Panthers have won two consecutive playoff games in, well, a long time.
The visiting Greenbrier Panthers (7-5) matched the host Panthers touchdown-for-touchdown through most of the first half until Magnolia (8-2) got a two-touchdown lead on a pass from Dalen Blanchard to Robert Mack. Magnolia led 42-28 at the half.
Greenbrier tied the game at 55-55 with 10:57 to play, but Kendrick Carey put Magnolia in the lead to stay with a touchdown run. Deray Williams scored four Magnolia touchdowns in the second half, including two after Carey’s run.
Magnolia now prepares to face an old playoff adversary in Little Rock on Friday. The Panthers will be out to avenge its 49-25 playoff loss to Pulaski Academy in 2016. The Bruins also had a 49-25 win against Magnolia in a 2007 playoff game.
Pulaski Academy (10-0) received a bye in the play-in round and beat Farmington 51-21 on Friday.
Magnolia’s Garrion Curry scored on the second play from scrimmage after running nine yards on the initial play. His 66-yard run down the left side line saw Curry blow past three Greenbrier defenders. It was followed by Jay Todd Baker’s extra point kick from the hold of Tanner Neilson.
Baker kicked 10 extra points. Kickers from both Magnolia and Greenbrier both missed one PAT -- Baker had one blocked, and Greenbrier's Treh Cox knocked one off to the left. There were no field goal attempts.
Nick Huett set up Greenbrier’s first touchdown with a 73-yard run. He scored from the Magnolia 6 on the next play.
Magnolia’s next drive took a little more effort starting from the Panthers 43, and included a Curry touchdown that was called back by a penalty. However, Curry scored from the Greenbrier 6 with 6:27 to play in the first quarter.
Greenbrier put together an 80-yard drive. J.P. Engelkes scored on a 14-yard pass reception from Cooper Wilcox.
Kendrick Carey scored on an 18-yard run around right end on the first play of the second quarter.
Huett answered for Greenbrier with a 39-yard run to tie the game at 21-21.
Carey got his second touchdown with a 16-yard run around the right side with 8:38 left in the half for a 28-21 Magnolia lead.
Both offenses got a little sloppy at this point.
Robert Mack recovered a Greenbrier fumble at the visitor’s 34. Then, Greenbrier’s Hayden Simpson (not to be confused with the former Magnolia athlete with the same name) recovered a fumble at the Greenbrier 29. Then, Jakeem Warren intercepted a Wilcox pass at the Magnolia 44.
And then, with a first down at the Greenbrier 48, Blachard threw a bomb to Robert Mack down the right side line. Mack came back to get the pass over the head of a defender at the 10-yard line, and easily scored as Magnolia achieved a two-touchdown lead.
It should be noted that while Blachard, Magnolia’s sophomore quarterback, scored no touchdowns, he received fan appreciation for many of his runs. These included a memorable first-quarter run in which he lowered his shoulder and knocked down a defender for a first down.
Greenbrier’s Wilcox scored on a 37-yard run with 1:37 left in the half.
Magnolia’s Marcus Harper responded with a 64-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:17 left in the half. Magnolia led 42-28 going into the third quarter.
Greenbrier cut into Magnolia’s lead after Wilcox ran 47 yards to the Magnolia 12. Wilcox threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to J.P. Engelkes.
Deray Williams scored the first of his four second-half touchdowns on a 35-yard run with 8:08 left in the third quarter for a 48-35 Magnolia lead.
Wilcox ran for a 6-yard TD on Greenbrier’s next possession at the end of an 80-yard drive.
Magnolia came back after the Panthers received good position at midfield following an onside kick.
Curry had another touchdown called back by penalty, but he scored again on a 22-yard run on the next play. Magnolia led 55-52.
Greenbrier scored on its next two possessions to tie the game.
Wilcox scored on a 20-yard run with 1:55 left in the third quarter. His teammate, Jeremy Parker, recovered a fumble on Magnolia’s next series that led to a 5-yard Wilcox touchdown run with 10:57 to play.
Marcus Harper came very close to scoring on another kickoff, but was tackled after a 54-yard return to the Greenbrier 16.
Williams scored on an 11-yard run.
Greenbrier punted on its next possession, and on second down, Williams ran 74 yards for a touchdown.
With the clock winding down, Magnolia took over on downs at the Greenbrier 6.
Williams ran for a 2-yard score with 2:35 remaining.
Magnolia got the ball back one last time and ran out the clock.
Friday’s game was the fifth time this season that Magnolia has scored 52 or more points – all victories. This includes four of Magnolia’s last five games.
Magnolia was on the losing end of score in the 70s in 2018, when Hot Springs Lakeside beat Magnolia 71-48.
In other first-round games:
Harrison 21, Camden Fairview 14.
White Hall 14, Batesville 10.
Harrison plays White Hall on Friday.
Hot Springs Lakeside 31, Vilonia 22.
Little Rock Christian 48, Clarksville 19.
Lakeside plays Christian on Friday.
Wynne 38, Maumelle 6.
Texarkana 20, Morrilton 20.
Wynne plays Texarkana on Friday.
In early season games, Magnolia lost to Harrison but defeated Little Rock Christian. Magnolia lost to Camden Fairview in the regular season. Magnolia had been scheduled to play Lakeside and Texarkana but both were called as “no contest” cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.