By: Jim Steele
McKENZIE, Tenn. - While it's true that Milan has the talent and ability to defeat McKenzie's middle school football team, which the scoreboard revealed Tuesday night, 22-6, McKenzie had the chops to beat Milan.
But it didn't.
The Bulldogs broke away from a McKenzie team that appeared to be going through motions for much of the night. Big plays helped Milan take a 14-6 lead at half, including a 59-yard run on third-and-11 right before the break. As a result, the Rebels are in the midst of a three-game skid, the first such slide since 2004, and has just one more chance to salvage a winning season.
And when McKenzie did experience some success, it would, quite often on the very next play, shoot itself in the foot with a fumble, penalty or by giving up on a passing route.
The inconsistency frustrated McKenzie coach Brad Chappell.
"Right now, we're not doing the little things right," he said. "You can't make mistakes like that and beat a good football team. You can't make mistakes like that and beat a bad football team. And Milan has the horses to make you pay."
Milan racked up 281 total yards and, despite the yardage, the Rebels delivered a decent defensive effort. All three scores were set up by three plays which totaled 153 of the 281.
"Defensively, we played pretty decent, except for a few plays where we didn't do what we needed to do," said the coach. "They have enough speed to burn you on it and certainly did so."
Early in the second frame, McKenzie had a chance to prolong a drive on a fourth-and-1 play, but fumbled the ball away. On the very next play, Milan's Keenan Booth darted 39 yards deep into Rebel territory. Four plays later, Kristen McKinney scored from the 12 for a 6-0 lead.
"We had a fumbled snap on fourth-and-1 and that's terrible football," Chappell said. "I'll take the blame for it, but that's the kind of stuff that will get you beat."
McKenzie did take on the equalizer with a nice 43-yard drive. Holden Stanfill barged in from the 2 with 1:48 to play in the half.
The Rebels seemed to be in pretty good shape to go into the break either tied or with a chance to lead. Keenan Taylor took down Bradley Brown for a 10-yard loss. Booth got 9 of those yards back on the next play and Milan faced a 3-and-11. From there, Hayden Bolton raced 59 yards down the right side. Booth ran in the two for a 14-6 lead at the break.
After a scoreless deadlock in the third, Milan punched in an insurance TD with 4:44 to play. Davon Andrews scored from the 5 and Booth added the deuce for a 22-6 lead.
"We don't have a high-powered offense that's going to put a lot of points on the board and we can't give up 22," Chappell said. "And when we get behind like that, we have to start pressing and it magnifies our mistakes."
Booth lead Milan with seven carries for 132 yards.
Chase Norden led the Rebs with 11 carries for 60 yards. Janson Davis was 5-15 passing for 86 yards and a pick. Taylor had four catches for 68 yards. Chase Kelley had two grabs for 36 yards. Noah Lowrance had six tackles, one for loss, and Mitchell Lunn had five stops to lead the Rebels.
The Rebels play their last regular-season game at Camden 6:30 Tuesday, Sept. 28.