On homecoming, the Magic tasted defeat. It’s safe (albeit cliché) to say they didn’t much care for it.
Last Friday night, Will Bauman led the way as the Magic removed the taste from their collective mouths with a close but convincing 21-7 win over section opponent Willmar. Bauman picked up 201 total yards and two touchdowns (despite having touchdown runs of 70 and 50-yards called back on penalties) as the Magic won the battle in the trenches all night and eventually imposed their will on the Cardinals.
Despite what Coach Jason Telecky called the offensive lines best game of the year, Monticello was a little slow to take advantage. Then, after two possessions that ended in punts, the Magic finally struck. Bauman took a pitch left and after a couple of nice moves and broken tackles was touchdown bound on a 70-yard run. But, no. Downfield holding negated the run and the Magic were still tied at zero. However, the Magic stayed determined. The drive continued. And late in the first quarter Birk Olson took a handoff at the opposing 42, broke through a tackle on the left side, cut it out, and outran all pursuers to the end zone, putting Monticello up 7-0.
Finally, Monticello was out front early against a quality opponent.
“It did kind of feel like a weight had been lifted,” said Telecky. It was an extra boost to the offense that they had stayed on the field and scored after the momentum-killing penalty on the long touchdown run.
The Magic moved the ball a couple more times in the first half. In the second quarter, Bauman took a pitch and went 47 yards down the left side, untouched into the secondary, and then using a couple of spectacular stop-and-go moves to get into the end zone. Again, called back on a downfield penalty. This time, Monticello would not be able to continue the scoring drive. The Magic would make it inside the 20 one more time in the half, on a great throw and catch from Matt Bonk to who else, Bauman. But that drive also stalled out.
On the other side of the ball, the defense was helping that one touchdown lead stand up for the entire first half. Facing one of the top dual threat quarterbacks they will see all year, the Magic proved up to the task.
“It really felt like our defense was locked in,” said Telecky. “I thought they did such a good job of confusing them. We did so many things we’ve never done in a game before, and we did them really well.”
The Magic spent the first half playing with just three linemen, and even they were standing straight up on numerous plays. The rotating front kept Willmar confused, helped the Magic get pressure and allowed Monticello to drop eight athletic defenders back into coverage on passing downs. The defense worked to perfection early as the Cardinals’ offense, which entered the game averaging 20 points per game, hardly even threatened to score in the first half.
All in all, it was a first half controlled by the Magic. Just one issue, the scoreboard didn’t reflect that.
“We weren’t extremely happy being up only seven points,” said Bauman.
Things were about to get a lot tighter. Willmar made some halftime adjustments to combat the three-man Magic front, and on their first drive of the half they reeled off a 19-play scoring drive that culminated in Zech Streed taking a handoff at the two-yard line and plunging into the end zone, as the Cardinals tied the game up with the ensuing extra point.
For the remainder of the third quarter, the game hung in the balance. Then, as the third quarter wound down, Willmar moved the ball into Magic territory. After getting to the Monticello 40, the Cardinals stalled out. But rather than punting, they elected to go for it. The Magic defense forced an incompletion, giving their offense the ball back near midfield. While Monticello only picked up one first down on their ensuing drive, momentum and even more importantly, field position, had been turned.
After punting, Monticello got another quick stop. The Magic were forcing Willmar to try to do everything underneath, similar to much of Monticello’s own attack. The difference was, Monticello was making tackles on defense, and breaking them on offense. So, when the Magic forced another three and out and got the ball back at the 50, it seemed only a matter of time before the visitors found the end zone again.
Sure enough, Bauman and a motivated offensive line just kept chugging as they first converted a third down, and then a fourth down, before eventually springing Bauman for a 16-yard touchdown run to give Monticello a 14-7 lead with under four minutes to play.
“The offensive line, they played almost flawlessly,” said Bauman, before going on to say that on several runs he hardly even felt touched until he got in the secondary.
In the secondary, Bauman took care of the rest. He made himself tough to bring down in open space, racking up yards after contact on his way to 130 yards rushing and 71 yards receiving.
“He was phenomenal,” said Telecky. “Huge game for him.”
Willmar did get the ball back with one more chance to put together a drive against the Magic. But Monticello offered them no hope. On the second play of the drive, Olson broke into the backfield and ripped the quarterback to the ground. While that play effectively ended the game, Monticello was able to add a couple of finishing touches.
The Magic broke up consecutive passes to force a turnover on downs, and after taking over inside the ten, Bauman punched in a third-down run for his second touchdown and a 21-7 lead. Two plays later, the game was officially over, and the Magic were officially back on track.
“I was pretty frustrated with how I played on homecoming,” said Bauman. “I knew I needed to play better … It sets the tone for the rest of the year.”