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McKenzie shows UC a rerun

McKenzie shows UC a rerun
McKenzie shows UC a rerun

Union City’s Josh Nicks has open field during Friday’s jamboree action at Huntingdon.
It was déjà vu for Union City.
Thankfully for the Tornadoes, this time it didn’t count.
After scoring a touchdown in its opening possession and essentially dominating the first quarter, UC was gouged repeatedly by McKenzie’s running attack and ultimately came out on the short end of a 7-6 score vs. the Rebels in the annual Huntingdon Jamboree Friday night.
The exhibition — two 10-minute quarters that served basically as an audition for this week’s season-openers for both teams — played out almost exactly as when the two last met in Round 2 of the state playoffs last season.
In that contest, the Twisters scored the first time they had the ball, but later were unable to stop McKenzie’s ground game as the Rebels drove for a game-winning score.
It played out nearly the same way Friday.
Jacob Worley ran 27 yards for a touchdown on Union City’s fourth snap from scrimmage to give the Tornadoes a 6-0 lead with the session not quite four minutes old. Three straight runs by fullback Josh Nicks had netted 24 yards before Worley’s TD jaunt.
Stone-walled in the first period, the McKenzie ground game — minus top rushers Jake Johnson and Quinton Bowden — still gashed the tiring Purple and Gold defense repeatedly in the second period.
Keon Williams bolted 36 yards for a touchdown with just under five minutes to play, and later had runs of 26 and 18 yards as the Rebels piled up 121 yards rushing in the second quarter alone.
Alex Rider’s made PAT after McKenzie’s touchdown after UC’s Jorge Guerri had yanked his attempt left no-good, proved to be the difference.
Time ran out with McKenzie threatening again, on the Tornado three-yard line.
“It was a lot like last year in the playoffs, wasn’t it?” UC head coach Darren Bowling asked afterward. “I thought we played with great emotion and passion early, but our intensity dropped in the second quarter when we got fatigued a little bit and they took advantage of it.
“McKenzie’s a good, well-coached football team with basically everybody back from last year. I’ll be surprised if they don’t make a run deep into the double-A playoffs.”
The Tornadoes, who’d dominated three scrimmage foes by a combined 12-touchdown-to-2 count before Friday, seemed to be in total control after the first period.
In addition to Worley’s scoring run, the UC defense limited McKenzie to next-to-nothing on three first-quarter possessions with Ronnie Fair three times throwing ballcarriers for lost yardage with a forced fumble on one of those tackles.
The second quarter belonged entirely to the Rebels, though, as Union City never gained a first down after its initial offensive series while the Rebels rushed for 120 yards on 14 plays in their two possessions.
“I think anytime you can learn from your mistakes and not have to take a loss for it, you’ll take it,” Bowling added. “We learned tonight we have some issues, with decision-making and with our conditioning. Both of those are fixable, and I expect us to learn from this and correct our errors before we play for keeps next week.”
UC opens its 2009 campaign by hosting Trigg County (Ky.) Friday night.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
 

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