By: Jim Steele
McKENZIE, Tenn. - McKenzie running back Chase Norden had a great night and a bad night all at the same time.
The eighth-grader rushed eight times for 202 yards and two TDs and helped lead the host Rebels to a 34-14 victory over Camden Tuesday night.
On his last TD run, a 66-yard jaunt late in the third quarter, was a thing to behold until he was tackled as he reached the end zone. As he reached the sideline, it was determined he had a shoulder injury, possibly a separation or a broken collarbone.
Norden led an explosive night where the Rebels got a lot of bang for their buck. MMS only held the ball 6:48 of the alloted 32 minutes, snapped the ball a mere 17 times, yet amassed 310 total yards. Norden had a 94-yard TD run negated by a clipping call in the second quarter, otherwise, he'd have had nearly 260 yards.
He had runs of 28, 48, 34, 47 and 66 yards. In addition, Mitch Merrick had a 37-yard TD run and Jack Surber hit Jordan Haynes for a 72-yard TD pass.
It was a blitzkreig kind of night for the Rebels, who finished the season 6-1 and accepted the invitation to the 2011 mckenzierebels.com Bowl at Bethel University next week. Date, time and opponent will be announced soon.
First-year Rebel coach Paul Carroll was pleased with the progress of his team and how it took over this game.
"Since our second game of the season, our kids have started to come on. We've started working in practice being more physical, getting after it, blocking, tackling, getting downfield," said Carroll. "We've game-planned and we have a bunch of plays we could call, but we stick with about four plays because what we are doing has worked."
Defensively, the Rebels played the smashmouth role. Camden scored two late TDs against the Rebels' mop-up unit, but before that, the Lions encountered tough sledding.
"I'm seeing guys come off the ball and stroke folks," said Carroll. "We're getting that physicality back. If your defense gets after it, you can win any ballgame you are in."
But the offense didn't stay on the field very long at all, thanks to the quick-strike attack.
"We had three runs of almost 90 yards," said Carroll, lamenting Norden's injury. "I wish he'd have taken a knee at the 5, but you can't beat yourself up over that. Maybe we'll step up and some of our kids will show character."
Carroll said he didn't know about Norden's prognosis, but he is probably doubtful for the bowl game. He joins Kenon Hutcherson (broken arm), Chase Kelley (foot ailment) and Jeremiah Bailey (hip flexor) on the Rebels' injury list.
Camden opened the game with an onside kick, which it recovered, but the Lions dealt with a quick three-and-out. McKenzie took over at its own 10 and marched 90 yards, set up by Norden's 48-yard trek. Surber scored from the 1 with 2:00 to play in the first for a 6-0 score.
Camden fumbled the ball back to McKenzie, which was recovered by Josh Pruitt, and on the next play, Norden rocketed 96 yards down the left side for a score. But a block-in-the-back call brought the ball back to the 28.
On the next play, Surber located Haynes for a 72-yard TD aerial with 3:45 to play in the second. McKenzie led 12-0. At midfield, Camden went for it on fourth down and didn't make it. The Rebels took over and that's when Norden burst free for a 53-yard TD on the first play of the drive. With 1:38 to play, MMS led 20-0. Norden finished the regular season with 65 carries for 656 yards.
Merrick added his 37-yard scoring sprint with 6:51 left in the third. Surber picked off a Camden pass and at the Rebel 34 and Norden quickly turned the gift into points on the Rebels' first play from scrimmage. That's when he rambled 66 yards, but suffered the shoulder injury in the end zone.
McKenzie snapped the ball just two times in the fourth quarter, both lost fumbles and Camden was able to tack on two TDs. Haden Abernathy tossed a 35-yard TD to Ben Stratton, then, Abernathy scored on a 25-yard run at the final horn.
Merrick led the Rebel defense with eight tackles, one for loss. Pruitt and Noah McEwen each had fumble recoveries and Zach Sadler had a sack. Paul Watkins had two tackles for los.
Deshawn Brown had 12 carries for 55 yards to lead the Lions. Dalton Whitfield led Camden with three tackles.