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McKENZIE (August 27) — The McKenzie Middle School Rebels opened the football season Thursday with a thrilling, come-from-behind home win, 24-20, over the Milan Bulldogs.The visitors struck …
McKENZIE (August 27) — The McKenzie Middle School Rebels opened the football season Thursday with a thrilling, come-from-behind home win, 24-20, over the Milan Bulldogs.
The visitors struck first with a touchdown late in the first quarter, just before a thunderstorm delayed the game for 45 minutes. The Rebels refocused during the break, tying the game at 8-8 shortly after play resumed. Milan scored twice in the second quarter, but McKenzie made two vital stops on two-point conversions.
The Rebels scored as time expired in the half to pull within four, then took the lead in the third while holding the Bulldogs scoreless in the second half.
Milan received the opening kickoff and started at the Bulldog 40. McKenzie’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, and Milan’s punt was downed at the Rebel 31.
Rebel Colt Norden began the first McKenzie drive with a 20-yard carry, but the team failed to move the chains again and punted three plays later.
Taking over at the far 34, Bulldog Greg Hayes made a short gain. Markell Cunningham followed with a five-yard gain, then repeated for a 60-yard touchdown. Hayes added the two-point conversion, and Milan led 8-0 with 2:45 to play in the first frame.
Norden received the ensuing kickoff and made a solid return to near midfield. At that point, around 6:45 p.m. and 2:33 on the first-quarter clock, lightning in the area prompted officials to call for a 30-minute delay. Players adjourned to their locker rooms, and fans retreated to their cars.
The storm system passed, and play resumed at 7:30 p.m. A penalty against the Rebels made it first-and-20, but Norden got back 15 yards in one run. Then, quarterback Tate Surber threw to Landon Brown for a 48-yard touchdown. Surber then tossed to Cordell Orgain for two points, and the score was knotted at 8-8 with two minutes remaining in the first frame.
A short kick gave Milan good field position at the Rebel 44. Bulldog Dee Kelly made a short gain, then Cunningham ran for five. He lost a yard on the next try to end the opening quarter.
Starting the second frame on fourth down, Kelly ran for 14 yards and a first down. Cunningham then went 26 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. The Rebels stopped the two-point try, and Milan led 14-8 early in the second.
McKenzie went three-and-out on the next possession and punted.
The Bulldogs took over near midfield and earned one first down before fumbling the ball to McKenzie at the Rebel 36.
The Rebels went three-and-out again and gave Milan a short field.
Milan committed a false start, but then Hayes threw to Cunningham for a 48-yard touchdown. McKenzie again foiled the Bulldog two-point conversion, and Milan’s lead was 20-8 with just under two minutes to play in the half.
The Bulldogs’ onside kick attempt was smothered by the Rebels at their 46. Surber kept for three, then Norden gained 25 down to the 25. Brown made a short gain, then Surber threw incomplete to Norden in the end zone. A high snap on the next play was recovered by Milan at the Bulldog 36.
Hayes scrambled for seven yards on first down, then fumbled to McKenzie on second down.
With 45 yards to go and just nine seconds on the clock, Surber made a quick throw that fell incomplete. Then, as time expired, he found Norden for the touchdown. Surber tossed to Orgain for two points, and the Rebels cut the deficit to 20-16 at the break.
McKenzie got the ball back to start the second half, beginning the drive at the far 44. Norden ran for a first down, then, two plays later, Milan jumped offside to move the chains again. Surber kept on an outside run for 12 yards down to the 22, but a high snap on the next play lost the Rebels seven yards. Next, Surber fielded a low snap and was sacked. Two plays later, McKenzie punted to pin the Bulldogs deep at their own 18.
The Rebel defense forced a three-and-out, and a high punt was downed at the 25.
McKenzie quickly capitalized on the short field. Norden ran for 18 to the 7, but slipped on the next play to lose eight. Another big loss made it third-and-goal from the 25, and Surber threw incomplete to Orgain in the end zone. On fourth down, the QB kept and ran to paydirt. He kept again to add two points, and the Rebels were in control with a 24-20 lead as less than a minute remained in the third quarter.
Milan went three-and-out to run out the frame and punted on the first play of the fourth.
McKenzie pounded the ball on the ground to run down the clock, earning one first down before punting.
Pinned back with their worst starting field position of the game at the 9, Milan mustered a pair of first downs on carries by Cunningham and Kelly. With the clock approaching two minutes, the Bulldogs were forced to throw, but Hayes missed the mark four straight times and McKenzie took over.
Surber took a knee three times, and the Rebels celebrated the 24-20 win.
McKenzie (1-0) travels to West Carroll on Thursday, September 3. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.