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Rebels Top Mustangs, 30-6, In Round One of Rivalry Week


McKENZIE (August 16) — It was a big week for one of the area’s fiercest rivalries as the McKenzie Rebel and Huntingdon Mustang faithful met on back-to-back nights for middle and high school football showdowns at Randy Thomas Field.

Round one was the middle school contest Thursday, where the hometown Rebels took a dominant, 30-6 victory, scoring on the first snap from scrimmage and then on each of three second-half possessions.

Huntingdon won the coin tossed and deferred to the second half. Rebel Etijay Tharpe returned the opening kick to the Mustang 42, then Marquez Taylor ran for the touchdown. Taylor converted for two points, and McKenzie led 8-0 with just 20 seconds off the clock.

The Mustangs began their first drive at their own 44. Tayshawn Rivers ran twice for nine yards, then two plays later managed a dozen to convert on fourth-and-two. He ran for two more first downs to get the ball to the Rebel 15, but a holding call two plays later set Huntingdon back to the 27. The Mustangs gained on each play, but turned the ball over on downs at the 10.

McKenzie made three first downs before the end of the first frame, then started the second with a pair of runs to move the chains again and cross midfield. The drive stalled there as the Rebels were flagged for a block in the back, then turned the ball over on downs at the Mustang 44.

Huntingdon caught a break as another McKenzie penalty gave them a first down on third-and-long, but three plays later, a pass by Rivers was intercepted by Rebel Zach Aird at the McKenzie 25.

In the final minute of the half, Rebel quarterback Jackson Cassidy found Aird for a 33-yard gain, but a holding penalty on the next play ended the threat and the half as McKenzie led 8-0.

Huntingdon received the second-half kickoff, but the Rebel defense held strong to force a three-and-out. A Mustang punt gave McKenzie the ball at midfield.

Taylor took a handoff 25 yards, then repeated that two plays later for his second touchdown of the game. A pass by Cassidy for the two-point conversion was caught but dropped before crossing the goal line. With 4:52 to go in the third quarter, McKenzie led 14-0.

Starting at the far 40, Mustang Ashton Hutcherson ran twice, then threw incomplete. On fourth-and-seven, Ty Kelley avoided a couple of tackles to gain the first down and then some. Rivers ran twice for a net loss, then Hutcherson threw incomplete again. The fourth-and-eleven run yielded just six yards, and the Rebels took over at their own 35. Taylor again wasted no time, taking the first-down handoff 65 yards to paydirt. Cassidy threw to Rashad McCreary for two points, and McKenzie led 22-0 with 40 seconds left in the third.

The Mustangs started at the 34. Rivers lost a pair to bring up the fourth quarter. Ethan Lewis started the final frame with a short run. Rivers got the next handoff, finding room near the sideline to head for the end zone. He was tripped up on a shoestring tackle near the 5, but managed to get the ball across the goal line for Huntingdon’s first points of the night. Hutcherson was stopped short on the two-point try, and the Rebels led 22-6 with just over seven minutes left to play.

McKenzie began near midfield, but quickly faced fourth-and-inches. Cassidy dove for four yards on a sneak to move the chains, then Taylor gained eleven for another first. Two plays later, Cassidy kept for a touchdown from 25 yards out. Tharpe ran for two points, and the Rebel lead was 30-6 with just under four minutes left.

Huntingdon started at the Mustang 43. Rivers and Hutcherson each ran twice to cross midfield and move the chains. The next play resulted in a Huntingdon penalty, then Rivers made a short gain before time expired for a 30-6 Rebel victory.

McKenzie will travel to Hollow Rock-Bruceton Thursday, while Huntingdon has a bye week.


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