McKenzie chips off first loss for Lions
McKenzie chips off first loss for Lions
Posted: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 8:49 am
The Rebels poked, prodded and chipped away at Dresden’s defense and finally broke through for the go-ahead score, then took advantage of a late interception to claim a 19-7 District 13A victory Friday night at Dresden’s Rotary Field.
The McKenzie victory was the perfect tonic after suffering a 14-7 setback to Westview in last week’s season opener.
“It was a good bounce back from last week. It still wasn’t pretty, but they hung in there, fought hard and came back with a big win and now we can build on that,” said Comer. “We still have a long ways to go; we’re not playing near as crisp as we’d like to be, but we’re finding ways to win, and that’s the most important thing.”
Falling from the ranks of the unbeaten had to be a disappointment for Dresden coach Scott Hewett, whose team opened the season with a 13-2 victory at Westview and enjoyed a 33-13 victory over Gibson County a week ago.
After a very physical game, Hewett elected to keep his Lions on the sideline and not take part in the post-game handshake. He left the facility soon thereafter and wasn’t available for comment. Afterward, several players from Dresden visited the Rebel locker room to offer congratulations and handshakes.
Comer wasn’t aware of any bad blood or history with Hewett and was puzzled at the post-game display. Comer said no ill words were exchanged with Hewett.
“I don’t know what that was about,” the curious coach said.
Dresden fumbled five times, losing four and surrendered an interception.
All three McKenzie touchdowns were set up by Lion turnovers. Two of those touchdowns had Hunter Lowe’s fingerprints on them. After a Lion fumble with 9:55 to play, the Henry County transfer broke through the line and darted 53 yards to the Lion 12. On that one play, Lowe doubled his yardage total for the night and finished with 18 carries for 134 yards.
Four plays later, on a 4th-and-4, Rebel quarterback Luke Robertson tossed a six-yard TD pass to Colin Vinson with 6:25 to play and the Rebels took the lead for good, 12-7.
Two Dresden possessions later, Lowe stepped in front of a pass from Dresden’s Davis Moran and raced 37 yards to the end zone and McKenzie salted the pivotal district game away. Braxton Rider booted the PAT and McKenzie had the insurance it needed with a 19-7 cushion.
“Defense is playing lights out and doing a good job,” Comer said. “We just have to keep it going. We’re putting a lot of pressure on them, so we have to find a way to generate some points and take pressure off them.”
The Rebels started their game much like they did last week, using a turnover to generate its first touchdown. This time, Rebel linebacker Michael Kelley stripped Dresden quarterback Gatlin Hatchel of the ball, which was recovered by Vinson at the 4.
On the first play from scrimmage, sophomore tailback Junior Chavez waltzed over the goal line for McKenzie’s 6-0 lead with 8:20 to play in the first. The conversion kick failed.
Dresden responded two possessions later with a seven-play, 56-yard drive that ate up 4:10. Hatchel located Tyler McPeak for a 4-yard TD hookup. Colin Kanehl drilled the extra point and the Lions made that lead stick until late in the fourth frame.
Hatchel had a good night, completing 8-of-12 passes for 123 yards and a score. Three of those completions converted crucial third-down plays that kept drives alive and kept McKenzie’s offense off the field. He also was a workhorse on the ground with 14 carries for 51 yards to lead the Lions in rushing.But as the game went on, McKenzie’s run-it-between-the-tackles gambit began to pay off.
The Rebels snapped the ball 58 times to Dresden’s 44 plays, but only managed two trips to the red zone.
Robertson was 7-of-16 passing for 57 yards to lead the Rebels. Vinson had three catches for 27 yards and a TD. Robert Taylor had three grabs for 23 yards. Defensively, Vinson had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Zeick Hicks broke up two passes, had a tackle for loss, recovered a fumble and a quarterback hurry.
He also would have had a 62-yard interception return had it not been nullified by a penalty. Taylor and Chapman each broke up three passes and had fumble recoveries.
Kanehl had four catches for 88 yards to lead the Lions. He also had four returns for 84 yards. Defensively, he had three tackles to go with an interception and a pass break-up. McPeak had eight stops to lead the Lions, which included a sack. Eric VanDyke, D.J. Ellis, Alex Ellison and Logan Thomas each had five stops. Ellison had one for a loss.
This week, McKenzie (1-1, 1-0) hosts Trenton Peabody, and Dresden (2-1, 0-1) hosts Stewart County at Rotary Field.