Photos by Michele Jarrett
From the very start, one got the sense that it wasn’t McKenzie’s night in its non-regional game with Obion Central.
The host Rebels fumbled the opening kickoff, and things spiraled out of control from there. Central won 41-19, dropping the Rebels to 4-5 on the year.
After McKenzie fumbled on the opening kickoff, it took only 12 seconds for Central to dent the scoreboard. Colby Priest fired a 36-yard scoring pass to Nick Chappell, followed by a successful two-point conversion. Central led 8-0 with 11:48 to play in the first quarter.
“We turned the ball over and they hit us with a pass right off the bat and we never could recover from it,” said McKenzie coach Wade Comer. “We started pressing a bit too much and it snowballed on us.”
After an exchange of punts, McKenzie executed a five-play, 75-yard drive, ending in Marquez Taylor’s 30-yard run. The kick failed, and the Rebels trailed 8-6 with 6:41 to play in the first.
“We came back and responded and I thought we settled in,” Comer said. “But all it takes is one play and it can snowball on you.”
From that point, Central uncorked four scoring plays of 25 yards or more between the end of the first and the beginning of the third quarters.
With 26 seconds to play in the first, Priest dashed 25 yards for a score. With 6:23 in the second, Austin Cavin raced 81 yards. With 2:13 to play in the half, Priest had a 43-yard run, and Central had mounted a 29-6 lead at the break. With just 19 seconds elapsed in the third, Priest got loose on a midline option play and scored from 66 yards out. Central led 35-6 at that point.
“They run the same offense we faced last week. We hoped we had some of that stuff corrected and I felt like we did in practice.” Comer said. “They ran a midline option play and you have to do your job, but we didn’t stay disciplined.”
Comer said much of that may have been that five freshmen started on the defensive side of the ball.
“I’m not blaming them; there’s plenty of places to point the finger, but this is a process you have to go through to get better. The young kids have done and outstanding job. They are coming on.”
With Priest’s score at the 2:21 mark of the third, Central took a 41-6 lead and the clock ran continuously for a time. Priest had 158 yards rushing and three TDs.
McKenzie stopped the running clock by tacking on two fourth-quarter scores. Taylor darted 32 yards to the end zone with 10:12 to play, and Central led 41-12. Four minutes later, Chris Barnett picked up a loose ball and returned 82 yards. Zach Aird’s PAT finalized the score, 41-19.
Central rolled up 405 total yards to McKenzie’s 251. Marquez Taylor led the Rebels with 14 carries for 72 yards and a pair of TDs. Zach Jarrett was 10-24 for 141 yards. West Cook had three catches for 44 yards. Logan Lyles had two for 36. Taylor had three for 35. Will Latimer had one for nine and Kaden Allen had one for seven.
“We threw the ball well and caught it well,” said Comer. “But we have to get more consistent from an offensive standpoint.”
The Rebels will recognize their seniors in pre-game ceremonies as Adamsville visits next Friday night. Both teams enter 4-4 with 2-3 regional marks. The winner of this game will finish third and likely face Memphis-Mitchell in the first round of the playoffs. The loser is fourth and visits Memphis-Fairley.
Adamsville defeated Riverside 7-0 with a punt return in the first quarter.
“We have a lot laying on this game. Maybe we can put this behind us and execute better next week,” Comer said.