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MCKENZIE (Oct. 19) — The McKenzie Rebels put together the best performance of the season by far last Friday night despite chilly wet conditions and a soggy field. It would take a coin flip to …
MCKENZIE (Oct. 19) — The McKenzie Rebels put together the best performance of the season by far last Friday night despite chilly wet conditions and a soggy field. It would take a coin flip to decide what side of the ball had a better night offensively or defensively. The offense clicked on the ground and through the air while the defense played a lights-out game stopping 6 fourth down plays by Union City. Last year these two teams participated in a shootout in Union City with the Tornadoes narrowly winning 56-54.
Prior to the contest, Rebel senior players, managers, cheerleaders, and band members were honored along with their parents. This year’s senior class includes: Dashun Woodson, Bryston Diggs, Tyler Spivey, Jaiden Butler, Murphy Watkins, Larson King, Hunter Stafford, Nicholas Bills, Stephone Haynes, Drew Seiber, and Chase Allen. Senior managers included Will McBride, Dayana Gilbert, and LaJada Edmonson. Senior Cheerleaders are Marissa Nunnery, Haven Hargrove, and Kristen Taylor. Senior Rebel Band nembers are Owen Reynolds, Cianna Haney, Brady Marr, Sierra Keenan, and Michael Wooley.
The Rebels won the toss and elected to take the ball first. The offense got nowhere throwing two incomplete passes and losing yards on a run. So Larson King punted away to Union City and after a short return the Tornadoes started their first possession near midfield. Union City kept it on the ground as they drove into Rebel territory. They drew first blood scoring on a 2-yard run by Kaleb Craig with 6:26 left in the first quarter. The extra point was wide right leaving the Tornados with a 6-0 lead.
McKenzie did get some yardage on the ground on their second offensive attempt but had to punt after two incomplete passes. King got off a 45-yard punt backing Union City inside their own 10-yard line. McKenzie’s defense went to work forcing a three and out with Union City getting stopped on a 4th and 6 play. The Rebels took over near midfield and got the ball rolling on the ground and through the air as the first quarter came to a close. The Rebels began the second quarter with a third down and goal and got stopped short of a score. Joseph Miller took the ball in for a 3-yard score on fourth down with 11:11 left in the second quarter. Diego Calderon was good on the extra point giving McKenzie a 7-6 lead.
Union City wasted no time answering getting into Rebel territory on a 74-yard run by Conner Hurt. Next play they were in the endzone on a 11-yard TD catch by Ashton Westmoreland. They completed a 2-point conversion play to retake the lead 14-7 with 9:57 left in the second quarter.
McKenzie answered right back on the first play after the ensuing kickoff with Eli Surber hitting Joseph Miller for a 79-yard touchdown pass. Calderon nailed his second extra point to tie the game 14-14 with 9:42 left in the half.
McKenzie’s fired up defense forced Union City into another fourth down play which resulted in a fumble. McKenzie took over near midfield but lost possession on an interception a few plays later. The Rebel defense went back to work forcing a three and out series with Union City punting. McKenzie got the ball back after the short punt at the Tornado 44. Surber threw to Miller for 39 yards setting up a first and goal for McKenzie at the Union City 6. Miller took it six yards around the right side for a touchdown with 2:40 left in the half. Calderon hammered his third extra point of the night putting McKenzie ahead 21-14.
The Tornados got a good return on the kickoff and got a drive going into McKenzie territory but the Rebel defense again forced a fourth down play and stuffed it short of a first down. The Rebels took a knee to run out the clock on the first half.
The second half belonged to the Rebel defense stopping several Union City fourth down plays in the third and fourth quarters. No one scored in the third quarter but early in the fourth quarter Hunter Stafford recovered a Union City fumble giving the Rebels the ball at midfield. Seven plays later, McKenzie had the ball fourth down at the Union City 5-yard line. Diego Calderon connected on a 22-yard field goal widening the Rebel lead to 24-14 with 9:55 left in the fourth quarter.
With field conditions worsening due to a steady rain, both teams had cases of fumblitis with Dashun Woodson recovering a fumble for McKenzie. The Rebels appeared to be set to score again when they fumbled the ball back to Union City at the Tornado 7-yard line. Two plays later, Jordan Woods recovered a fumble for the Rebels giving them a first down and goal at the Union City 7. This time Joseph Miller took it 7 yards for McKenzie’s final score of the night with 3:45 left in the game. Calderon booted his fourth extra point making it a 31-14 contest. The Rebels stopped one more Union City possession and then ran the clock out for the win.
Coach Wade Comer was pleased with the Rebels effort on both sides of the ball. “We did an outstanding job tonight and took care of business. We played well. We executed well. Can’t ask for more than that.” When asked about the defensive effort, He said. “Best defensive effort all season. We were physical and got after them.”
Offensively the Rebels rang up 350 total yards with Eli Surber throwing for 200 yards. Joseph Miller had a big night with 140 yards receiving along with 88 yards rushing and scored all four of McKenzie’s touchdowns. Diego Calderon was 4-4 on extra points and added the field goal.
Next week, the Rebels play host to Gibson County for Homecoming 2018. The season has come down to this contest. If they win they will finish third in the region and make the playoffs. If they lose, the season will be over.