Welcome to our new web site!
To give our readers a chance to experience all that our new website has to offer, we have made all content freely avaiable, through October 1, 2018.
During this time, print and digital subscribers will not need to log in to view our stories or e-editions.
McKENZIE (October 26) — Homecoming 2018 and a possible playoff berth on the line made for a busy Friday night at Rebel Stadium. Prior to the contest, five young ladies were escorted by Rebel …
McKENZIE (October 26) — Homecoming 2018 and a possible playoff berth on the line made for a busy Friday night at Rebel Stadium. Prior to the contest, five young ladies were escorted by Rebel seniors to find out who would be crowned the 2018 McKenzie Homecoming Queen. The Homecoming court included Bailey Sawyers, Chloe Williams, Olivia Wright, Libby Oakley, and Ruby Garza. The Rebel Football team elected the Homecoming Queen which turned out to be Olivia Wright.
It all came down to the final game of the season for the McKenzie Rebels to have a shot at advancing to the state playoffs after not getting in last year. Despite losing their first five games, the Rebels put themselves in position to make the playoffs by winning three of the last four contests. The opponent was Gibson County’s Pioneers who were also in the same situation needing a win to advance to the playoffs.
Gibson County got the ball first to start the game and McKenzie’s defense left them with negative yardage for their efforts. Stephone Haynes sacked Pioneer quarterback Payton Lamberson on second down while third down was also a tackle for loss. Their punt snap went bad and McKenzie recovered the ball at the Gibson County 6-yard line. Two plays later, Eli Surber kept it and ran it in for McKenzie’s first score with 9:31 left in the first quarter. Diego Calderon nailed the extra point good for a 7-0 McKenzie lead.
That lead was short lived as the Pioneers got decent field position from a short kickoff. Gibson County’s quarterback called his own number and got loose for a 65-yard touchdown on first down with 9:18 left in the first quarter. They attempted a 2-point conversion which failed leaving the Rebels with a 7-6 lead.
McKenzie got moving quick on their next possession with Surber finding Joseph Miller on a 40-yard pass. The Rebels got down to the Gibson 11-yard line and got into a fourth and long and went for a 28-yard field goal which was good by Calderon with 5:30 to go.
The Pioneers answered nearly immediately with another big scoring play on second down when Lamberson got loose for the second time on a 65-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was good giving Gibson County a 14-10 lead with 4:31 left in the first quarter.
McKenzie got the ball back and began a drive which used up the remaining four minutes of the first quarter and carried over into the second quarter. The big play in the drive was a Surber to Logan Lyles pass covering 31 yards down to the Gibson County 30. Two plays later Surber converted a fourth and long play into a first down on a 16-yard run. Joseph Miller scored on an 8-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second quarter. Calderon’s extra point was good with 11:53 left in the second quarter.
After five possessions between the two teams that resulted in points, things got quiet as McKenzie’s defense forced a Pioneer punt on their next possession. The Rebels started at their own 7 and drove to Gibson’s 24-yard line and faced a fourth-and- four play. The pass went incomplete with the ball going over on downs. Gibson County took over and took the ball back the other way on several plays mostly through the air. Lamberson found Dante Holder for a 33-yard touchdown with 29 seconds left in the half. Their 2-point conversion attempt failed but the Pioneers regained the lead 20-17 heading into halftime.
The third quarter turned into more of a chess match with both teams getting stingy on defense. The Rebels got the ball first and went three and out. Gibson County got a little farther than that but their drive was stopped by two big defensive plays. Hunter Stafford deflected a pass on third down that forced the Pioneers to punt from near midfield. Chris Barnett, who had just returned to action after an injury sidelined him earlier in the year, made his presence felt blocking the fourth down punt.
McKenzie wasn’t able to capitalize on the good field position and the two teams kept swapping possessions for the rest of the third quarter. The defenses stayed after it into the fourth quarter with McKenzie getting backed up deep in their own territory. They had to punt from their own 3 yard line which gave the Pioneers excellent field position at the Rebel 37. Gibson County’s quarterback Payton Lamberson took it the distance on first down for a touchdown with 8:07 left in the final quarter. Their 2-point conversion failed opening the Pioneer lead to 26-17.
McKenzie got a scoring opportunity two possessions later when Murphy Watkins recovered a Pioneer fumble at the Gibson County 29. The Rebels got it down to the 12 where they fumbled it back to Gibson County. Time was becoming the Rebel’s enemy by this point. They got one more good possession and got the ball to the Gibson County 30 before throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Pioneers ran out the clock extending their season into the playoffs while McKenzie’s 2018 season was over.
Coach Wade Comer told the team following the loss that he was proud of the way they played this year and proud of the way they finished. He had preached all season that it wasn’t how you started that mattered it was how you finished.
As far as this game, Comer said. “We couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Gibson County took advantage of big plays which is something they’ve done all year.”
The Rebels say goodbye to a solid group of seniors that played a large part in the success that they did have this year. They include: #1-Dashun Woodson, #6-Bryston Diggs, #7-Tyler Spivey, #9-Jaiden Butler, #11-Murphy Watkins, #17-Larson King, #18-Hunter Stafford, #30-Nicholas Bills, #57-Stephone Haynes, #61-Drew Seiber, and #67-Chase Allen. They also had three senior managers: Will McBride, Dayana Gilbert, and Lajada Edmonson.