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McKENZIE (September 4) — The McKenzie Rebels began region play Friday, hosting the two-time defending state champion Peabody Golden Tide. The Rebels made an early statement with a big-play …
McKENZIE (September 4) — The McKenzie Rebels began region play Friday, hosting the two-time defending state champion Peabody Golden Tide. The Rebels made an early statement with a big-play touchdown to get on the board first, but the Tide answered with three unanswered scores. McKenzie never trailed by more than two scores and had a chance to tie the game late, but Peabody tacked on a touchdown and held on for a 35-21 win.
Peabody won the toss and elected to receive the opening kick.
The Golden Tide started the first drive at their own 36. Khalik Ganaway ran twice for a total of eight yards, then Drequan Vaughn gained five for a first down near midfield. Quarterback Sam Driggers threw to Malik Ganaway for 13 yards, but the Rebel defense regrouped and stopped the advance. After a third-down fumble for a big loss, Peabody punted, and Rebel Will Latimer made the fair catch deep at the 9.
McKenzie struck quickly as Marquez Taylor took the first snap 91 yards for a touchdown. Zach Aird kicked the PAT, and the Rebels led 7-0 with 7:20 to play in the first frame.
Golden Tide Ja’Darren Easley received the ensuing kick near the 20 and made a strong return to the McKenzie 45. K. Ganaway ran for 16, but the next play resulted in a Peabody penalty. Three plays later, the Golden Tide punted from the 36, and Latimer again made the fair catch deep in Rebel territory.
McKenzie went three-and-out, and Aird’s punt was fair-caught at the Rebel 46.
Driggers threw incomplete on first down, but K. Ganaway took the next snap 46 yards for the Peabody score. Isaiah Hicks kicked the extra point, and the game was tied at 7-7 with just under three minutes to play in the first.
The Rebels went three-and-out again, and a short punt gave the Golden Tide great field position at the McKenzie 36.
Driggers threw to M. Ganaway for a first-and-goal at the 10, and London Burkett ran for four to end the opening frame. Vaughn began the second quarter with a six-yard touchdown. Hicks added the point-after, and Peabody led 14-7.
A touchback started the Rebels at their own 20. Quarterback Jackson Cassidy threw incomplete, then Caleb Gill ran for four yards. Cassidy tossed to Latimer for a first down, then lost two on a keeper. He threw incomplete two more times, and Aird punted.
Golden Tide Demarcus Kee returned the kick 52 yards to the end zone, but a penalty negated the score. After an additional penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct by a Peabody coach, it was first-and-ten at the far 37. Driggers threw to M. Ganaway for another potential touchdown, but a holding penalty again kept points off the board. K. Ganaway ran twice for a first down at the 23, then earned another first at the 11 from short gain and a McKenzie personal foul penalty. K. Ganaway then took it in for the score. The Golden Tide were again flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the play stood. After Hicks’ kick, Peabody led 21-7 with 7:42 remaining in the first half.
Hicks kicked off from the 25 due to the prior penalty, and the Rebels started from their own 40. Rashad McCreary made a short gain, then Gill was stopped at the line of scrimmage. A delay of game cost five yards but Eli Surber, splitting time with Cassidy at quarterback, threw to Latimer for 20 yards and a first down in Golden Tide territory. Taylor and McCreary combined for nine yards, then Surber kept to move the chains. Taylor gained three, then repeated for 14. On first-and-ten from the 15, a Rebel fumble was recovered by Peabody at the 9.
K. Ganaway started the Golden Tide drive with an eleven-yard run, then gained a yard. Next, Driggers threw deep but incomplete. He dropped back to throw again, but Rebel Jordan Woods disrupted the pass. Logan Lyles caught the tipped ball for an interception and took it 20 yards for a touchdown. Aird kicked, and McKenzie cut the deficit to 21-14 a minute before intermission.
Peabody started at the far 42 and managed three plays, one for a first down, before time expired. At the half, the Golden Tide led 21-14.
The Rebels received the second-half kick, but were pinned deep at the 17. Taylor lost five, then Cassidy kept for a short gain. He kept again for a big gain, and a late hit by Peabody tacked on ten yards. On first-and-ten at the Peabody 41, Gill made a short gain. Cassidy threw incomplete once, but then connected with Latimer for 22 yards. Gill carried for six, but the next play resulted in a fumble recovered by the Golden Tide at the 11.
Peabody managed one first down before stalling and punting from the 34. The kick was downed at the Rebel 18.
Cassidy started the drive with two keepers, each for a short gain. He then threw incomplete, and Aird’s punt went out of bounds at the McKenzie 45.
The Golden Tide took advantage of the short field with a nine-play drive, including a pair of first downs and one fourth-down conversion, ending in a ten-yard touchdown pass from Driggers to M. Ganaway. Hicks hit the PAT, and Peabody’s lead was 28-14 with ten seconds to play in the third frame.
McCreary made a short kickoff return to the 36, then ran for a short gain on first down as the quarter concluded. He gained five on the first play of the final frame, then Surber kept for a first down near midfield. Lyles ran up the middle for six, then Surber was stopped for no gain. He repeated to earn a first down, then Taylor lost a yard. McCreary took it up the middle for eleven to move the chains, then repeated for three. Surber kept for a short gain, but a Peabody unsportsmanlike penalty made it first down at the 12. Gill ran for three, then Surber tossed to Gill for a yard. The QB kept for a pair, then tossed to a wide-open Lyles in the back of the end zone. Aird kicked the point-after, and Rebels cut the deficit to 28-21 with 4:25 to play in the contest.
A strategic kick by Aird forced the Golden Tide to start at their own 24. K. Ganaway ran for five, then for another yard. On third-and-four, Vaughn found a gap and went 70 yards for the touchdown. Hicks kicked to make it 35-21 with just under three minutes remaining.
A penalty on the kickoff return set McKenzie back at the 25. Cassidy threw to Latimer for eleven, then threw incomplete twice. He found Lyles for nine yards, then kept on fourth-and-one to move the chains. After three more incomplete passes, Cassidy’s last-ditch effort was intercepted by M. Ganaway.
Driggers took a knee twice to run out the clock on Peabody’s 35-21 win.
McKenzie’s offense produced 295 yards, including 219 on the ground and 76 in the air. Peabody had 335 yards, 264 rushing and 71 passing.
The Rebels (1-1, 0-1) are off this week. They travel to Halls Friday, September 18 for another region contest.