October 5, 2009 2:58:00 PM
It took about half a quarter for the Magnolia Heights football team to find the rhythm it last displayed in a 3-0 start to the season.
After that, the Chiefs marched all over the Heritage Academy Patriots 45-14 to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Chiefs'' stingy defense made things miserable all night for quarterback Will Swedenburg, intercepting the senior six times and turning them into 31 points.
Magnolia Heights took a 10-0 first-quarter lead and never let up, dominating every aspect of the game.
"We were concerned coming into this game, especially coming into it on a three-game skid," Magnolia Heights coach Cliff Young said. "I wasn''t sure where we were mentally. But I thought we executed well tonight and had some fun gaining some of that confidence back."
The six interceptions helped the Chiefs (4-3, 1-3) start every drive in the first three quarters beyond their 40-yard line.
Magnolia Heights only produced 305 yards total offense, but it had touchdown drives of 17, 49, 48, 15, and 8 yards.
"The interceptions didn''t help our defense tonight," Heritage Academy coach Brad Butler said. "We put them in tough situations. It''s hard to ask your defense to stand tall so many times in one game when you are giving them field position on the short field."
Butler acknowledged the loss of offensive coordinator Craig Hall, who resigned earlier in the week, had a negative effect for the offense.
"It''s really hard for a team to have to re-learn everything in just a few days," Butler said. "We played offense tonight like you would expect to see a team three days into spring training, not the mid-season."
Heritage Academy (3-4, 1-2) found little success on offense throughout the game. It averaged less than 1 yard per play on first-down going into its final drive, and was held to less than 2 yards per rush, which forced many long-yardage pass situations.
Swedenburg delivered on a pair of those occasions, connecting with Will West on a 46- yard fade in the second quarter and a 33-yard hookup with Glen Akin in the fourth quarter.
"The thing about Will is he is going to have to calm down under pressure and throw the ball away," Butler said. "He''s forcing balls and just throwing it up at times. We just have to become more crisp on offense if we want to compete."
Quarterback Mac McDonald threw for a season-high 199 yards and one touchdown to lead Magnolia Heights. McDonald also ran for a touchdown and had two interceptions at free safety.
"Mac played his best game of the year tonight on both sides of the ball," Young said. "He kind of set the tone with those two first-quarter picks to help the offense get that early lead. On offense, he made some really nice passes, especially on a couple of third and fourth downs to prolong drives."
The Chiefs also received a solid contribution from strong safety Thomas Allen Zettergren (two interceptions, one sack).
Heritage Academy will try to bounce back Friday when it plays host to Jackson Academy, while Magnolia Heights will travel to Lee Academy.