McKenzie Middle School Rebels Trounce Lions, 44-14
BY BRAD SAM
McKENZIE (September 7) — The McKenzie Middle School Rebels hosted the Lions of Henderson County South Thursday, anxious to take the field after a rainout the previous week. Following a quick Lion touchdown, the Rebels dominated on both sides of the field for the remainder of the game, allowing just one more score while piling on the points for a 44-14 victory.
The Lions received the opening kickoff and started at their own 40. Quarterback Kayden Phillips threw to Christian Wallace for 28 yards, then Wallace was stopped after a one-yard carry by Zayden McCaslin. Wallace found an opening on second down for 13 yards, but was again run down by McCaslin. Phillips threw outside to Chase Wulfert, but Jackson Cassidy made the stop at the line of scrimmage. Wallace then went outside for an 18-yard touchdown. After a two-point conversion, Henderson South led, 8-0, with six minutes remaining in the first frame.
The Rebels didn’t trail for long (16 seconds of game clock to be exact) as Marquez Taylor slipped, fell and jumped back to his feet before scooping up the Lion kickoff and taking it 86 yards for a touchdown, dodging nearly every player on the kicking team. Sawyer Phipps ran in for the two-point conversion, and the game was tied at 8-8.
Lion Chance Rogers took the ensuing kick down to the Rebel 30, then kept the first two snaps for short gains. A penalty and a Phillips carry for 16 yards netted a first-and-goal, but McCaslin and Andrew Cole stifled the next run. Phillips tossed to Ripkin Clenney, but Kestin Horton was waiting to make the tackle in the backfield. Two plays later, Rogers attempted a fourth-down pass, but it fell incomplete, and the Rebels took over at their own 8.
On the first McKenzie snap from scrimmage, Horton gained seven, then moved the chains on a second try. McCaslin threw incomplete, then Horton ran for another seven. A Lion penalty gave the Rebels a fresh set of downs, and Phipps ran for four as the quarter ended. McCaslin threw outside to Jake McDaniel for eight yards and a first, then Horton was stopped after a yard. A false start made it secondand- long, and McCaslin threw incomplete. He threw again on third down, finding Cassidy in the open field for a 62-yard touchdown. Horton ran for two, and McKenzie led, 16-8 with six minutes until intermission.
The Rebel defense forced Henderson South into a turnover on downs with big tackles by Cole and Daniel Latimer. A fourthdown run by Phillips was met by a host of Rebels just short of the first-down marker.
Starting in Lion territory, Mc-Caslin kept two snaps for eleven and four yards, then handed off to Taylor for a 29-yard touchdown. McCaslin tossed to Mc-Daniel for two points, and the Rebels were in control, 24-8, with 3:19 to go in the half.
After a long return by Rogers to the Rebel 25, the Lions moved the ball to the 14, then McKenzie forced a fumble and McDaniel recovered at the 10.
McCaslin threw incomplete, but Horton followed with a 12yard run. A large gain on the next play was negated by a personal foul penalty against the Rebels, but Horton took the next snap 85 yards to paydirt. Mc-Caslin kept and scored the twopoint conversion, and McKenzie increased its lead to 32-8 with 27 seconds until the break.
Phillips threw to Wallace for five yards to get the ball to midfield, but his next pass was picked off by McCaslin, who ran out the clock while nearly scoring.
The Rebels began the third at midfield. Taylor ran for 15, then McCaslin kept for 20 more. Horton picked up another first down at the 4, but McCaslin threw incomplete three times. On fourth-and-goal, Horton took a handoff and found the end zone. McCaslin threw incomplete on the two-point try, but the Rebels led, 38-8 with 6:01 to go in the third.
Henderson South had good field position after a short kick, but quickly faced third down. McKenzie jumped offside to move the chains, but Will Essary made back-to-back tackles for huge losses. Cassidy stopped a run after ten yards on third down, then allowed just a few more on fourth to earn the turnover. The Lions were tagged for holding, and repeated fourth down from even farther back. McDaniel stopped Wallace in the backfield to ensure the turnover.
The Rebels took over and moved the chains on runs by Taylor and Etijay Tharpe. Trey Cook ran for three, and McDaniel gained a first down at the 13 as the quarter ended. McCaslin threw to Cook for eight yards, then Tharpe had a touchdown run negated by a blocking penalty. On third-and-long, the Rebels fumbled and Henderson South recovered at the Lion 25.
Wallace ran for eight, then for 13 and a first down. He ran again, reaching the end zone thanks to a hold that negated the play. Wallace ran twice more to move the chains, then Rogers did the same with a 17-yard carry. Wallace took the next snap into the end zone. The Lion two-point try failed, and the Rebels led, 38-14, with just over three minutes left in the contest.
Cole dove on Henderson South’s onside kick attempt, giving the Rebels the ball near midfield. Bryson Steele took over at quarterback, handing off to Tharpe for a 12-yard gain. Rashad McCreary ran twice for 34 and five yards, respectively, downed at the 1. Tharpe hopped across for the touchdown, and the Rebels led, 44-14, after another failed two-point try.
With just over two minutes left, Rogers gained six and Phillips moved the chains. Rogers fumbled and was tackled deep in the backfield by Rebel Jaden Haynes, then Austin Haynes made one final stop as time expired.
The Rebels had 365 total yards of offense on 38 plays, 76 passing and 289 rushing. The Lions were held to just 176 yards on 43 plays, 38 passing and 138 rushing.
Rebel quarterback Zayden Mc-Caslin was three of nine passing for 76 yards and a touchdown. The leading receiver was Jackson Cassidy with one catch for a 62-yard touchdown.
Kestin Horton led the McKenzie rushing attack with eight carries for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Marquez Taylor rushed twice for 47 yards and a touchdown. Etijay Tharpe had six carried for 21 yards and a touchdown. Rashad McCreary ran twice for 38 yards, and Zayden McCaslin kept four times for 35 yards.
Sawyer Phipps led the Rebel defense with three tackles and two assists, with one tackle for a loss. Zayden McCaslin had three tackles and two assists. Jackson Cassidy and Jordan Gilbert each had three tackles and an assist, and Andrew Cole had a pair of tackles (one for a loss) and four assists.
The Rebels (3-1) will travel to Milan Thursday. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.
Photos by Brad Sam/The Banner