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TRENTON (November 20) — The McKenzie High School Rebels traveled Friday to face the two-time defending state champion Peabody Golden Tide in the TSSAA Class 2A State Football Quarterfinals. The …
TRENTON (November 20) — The McKenzie High School Rebels traveled Friday to face the two-time defending state champion Peabody Golden Tide in the TSSAA Class 2A State Football Quarterfinals. The Tide came into the contest with a 34-game winning streak, and the Rebels took them to the brink before they ended McKenzie’s season in a 17-10 double-overtime win.
The Rebels struck first with a field goal late in the opening frame, but the Tide answered with a touchdown in the second quarter. The defenses held strong through the third and into the fourth. McKenzie made a heroic touchdown drive to take the lead with under two minutes to play, but a Peabody field goal tied it at 10-10 as time expired.
Both teams fumbled in the first overtime. In the second, Peabody scored and kept the Rebels out of the end zone to clinch the win.
Peabody won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff.
The kick went out of bounds, and the Golden Tide started at the 35. They earned a first down into McKenzie territory, but then Rebels Chris Barnett, Logan Lyles and Brandon Boaz forced a punt. Will Latimer made a fair catch at the McKenzie 27.
Quarterback Jackson Cassidy kept for eight yards, then threw to Lyles for ten yards and a first down. Two plays later, Cassidy hit Lyles again to move the chains across midfield. Marquez Taylor ran for eight yards, then Cassidy threw incomplete. He kept on third down for just enough to earn a fresh set of downs, then Taylor ran twice to move the chains again. Two plays later, Cassidy kept for six, then repeated for nine to set up first-and-goal at the 4. Taylor and Lyles each gained half a yard, then Lyles was stopped for a loss. On fourth down, Zach Aird kicked a 21-yard field goal to give McKenzie a 3-0 lead late in the first frame.
Peabody responded with an eleven-play, 74-yard drive stretching into the second quarter, capped by a seven-yard touchdown run by Khalik Ganaway. Isaiah Hicks kicked the PAT, and the Tide led 7-3 with 7:37 remaining in the first half.
The Rebels started deep at their own 10. Cassidy threw to Latimer for 42 yards, then again for 21 yards. After a false start, Taylor gained six. Caleb Gill lost a yard, then Cassidy threw an interception to Ja’Darren Easley near the 10. Easley returned it to the Peabody 39.
McKenzie’s defense forced a quick three-and-out. Hicks’ punt bounced out of bounds at the Rebel 35.
The Rebels picked up a first down and moved into Tide territory, but a fumble was recovered by Peabody’s Conner Gatlin with about a minute to play before intermission.
The Tide moved the chains once but turned the ball over on downs with 14 seconds on the clock.
Taking over at the far 23, Cassidy took a knee to end the half.
McKenzie received the second-half kickoff and were pinned deep at the 7. After earning two first downs, the Rebels stalled and Aird punted from the 29. After a favorable roll, the ball was downed at the Tide 29.
Peabody managed to move the chains once before the Rebel defense forced a punt from near midfield.
The Rebels took over at their 23. Cassidy started with a pass to Zay Webber for 30 yards. Three plays later, the Rebels were stopped on fourth-and-two at the 39.
The Tide took over at their 39 and went three-and-out. Hicks punted on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Latimer made the fair catch at the 30.
Cassidy threw to Taylor for four yards, then kept for six to move the chains. The QB kept again for a short gain, then Taylor was stopped for a loss. Cassidy found Latimer for a first down at midfield. Taylor and Gill combined for five yards, then Cassidy threw incomplete. On fourth-and-five, Aird lined up to punt but instead threw to Lyles for more than enough to convert. The play was negated by a penalty for offensive pass interference, and Aird punted on the repeated down.
Starting at the 9, Peabody earned a pair of first downs before a holding penalty doomed the drive. Hicks punted and Latimer made the fair catch at the Rebel 40 with three minutes to play in the final frame.
Cassidy found Webber for 19 yard into Tide territory, then threw to Latimer for 37. On first-and-goal at the 4, Lyles was stopped for no gain. Cassidy kept the next snap for the score. Aird kicked the point-after, and McKenzie led 10-7 with 1:40 to play in regulation.
Peabody started the ensuing drive at the 26 and worked the clock by getting out of bounds and calling timeouts. Three first downs put the ball at the Rebel 20, and the Tide spiked the ball to stop the clock at four seconds. Hicks kicked a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10 as time expired.
The Tide won the overtime coin toss and chose to defend first.
Starting at the 10, Cassidy kept for a loss on first down, then scrambled and fumbled on second down. Peabody’s Jordan Shepherd recovered to end McKenzie’s possession.
The Tide took the ball at the 10 and lost yards on two plays before fumbling. Barnett made the recovery to end the first overtime.
Peabody took first possession in the second overtime. Ganaway ran for six, then went four for the touchdown. Hicks hit the PAT, and the Tide had a 17-10 lead.
McKenzie started at the 10 needing seven points to extend the game. Lyles gained a yard, then Taylor lost a yard. Cassidy threw incomplete on third down, then scrambled before throwing incomplete again to end the game.
Despite the intensity of the game and the heated fans and coaches on both sides of the stadium, the Rebels and Tide between the lines exhibited great sportsmanship throughout and congratulated each other on a fantastic game.
McKenzie ends the season with an 8-4 record.
Peabody moves to 12-0 and hosts Waverly (9-2) in Friday’s semifinal. The winner will face either Meigs County or Trousdale County for the championship on Saturday, December 5 at 3 p.m. in Cookeville.