By: Jim Steele
McKENZIE, Tenn. - Bethel Springs visited Bethel University and its mckenzierebels.com Bowl encounter with the McKenzie in a battle of Rebels, but it must have forgotten that it was a football game.
For the McNairy County bunch of Rebels, it was more of a track meet, especially for running back Tata Newsome. Newsome, who was named Bethel Springs' offensive MVP, carried for a bowl-record 18 times, 216 yards and three TDs as his Rebels knocked off McKenzie Middle School 32-22 in an exciting game.
This was a game for the books, the record books, that is. Eleven individual marks and six team records fell when this battle concluded. It was an explosive effort for Bethel Springs, who executed very well. On the other side, McKenzie proved every bit the equal, despite missing its top runner, Chase Norden and three other players because of injury. It was a gutsy performance for the local Rebels.
But Bethel Springs seemed to control the tempo from the beginning, erupting for big plays and doing just enough to keep McKenzie at an arm's length. A pivotal moment in the second quarter seemed to turn the game in Bethel Springs' favor. McKenzie had driven to the BS 5, trailing 12-6, but turned the ball over on an interception.
Bethel Springs quarterback Dylan Crabb hit Darrius Saunders five plays later on a bowl-record 76-yard TD hookup. That lifted Bethel Springs to an 18-6 mark.
McKenzie got close, but never was able to top the hill.
"That was a great stop there. The defense rose to the occasion," said Bethel Springs coach Bryan Franks. "It was a big stop and I think it was a turning point in the ballgame."
McKenzie coach Paul Carroll thought that was a crucial moment in the game as well.
"The stop was a turning point," said Carroll. "In the past, whatever we dialed up worked and that got us in a routine where we call a play and it goes 60 yards. But when it didn't, it was a different ballgame, but it was good for us because we learned as a team."
Bethel Springs opened the game with a 10-play, 60-yard drive that ended when Darwin Kelley scored from the 1.
McKenzie responded on the ensuing kickoff with a 71-yard return by Jordan Haynes, which set the Rebels up at the Bethel Springs 10. three plays later, MMS quarterback Jack Surber sprinted to the left side and jumped just inside the pylon for the TD to tie the game with :26 to play in the first.
Back came Bethel Springs. It answered with a five--play, 44-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard plunge from Newsome at the 5:58 mark of the second. The run attempt failed and Bethel springs led 12-6.
Newsome was just getting warmed up.
"He had 65 carries for 1,163 yards and 16 touchdowns coming into tonight," said Franks. "He did a great job. At the start of the first half, he started slow, so I challenged him to run it hard. I'm proud of him."
McKenzie took the ball down to the Bethel Springs 5 when Dalton Gates picked off a pass and returned it to the 12. Bethel Springs big-played McKenzie again when Crabb hit Saunders for the record-setting completion and gave his team an 18-6 advantage at the half.
The local Rebels didn't recede. They took the ball 54 yards on 14 plays to start the third frame and scored on a fourth-down play at the 1 on Surber's plunge. Noah McEwen's 23-yard catch, followed by a 17-yard reception by Chase Kelley set the table for the score. Surber shuffled a pass to Isaiah Townes for the deuce and Mckenzie trailed 18-14.
"We've gone through so much this year. A coaching change, players hurt and then we come out here tonight and almost win," said Carroll. "That was an extremely talented team. In the second half, we were down, but we didn't lay down. We played better in the second half than we did in the first half."
Bethel Springs needed only four plays, three of them going for 12, 16 and 37 yards, the last Newsome's scamper for the score. The PAT failed, but the McNairy Rebels had a 24-14 cushion. Back came McKenzie. Surber put just enough air on the ball to lift it over the defensive back into the sticky hands of the the diminutive McEwen, who broke four tackles and waltzed into the end zone. Surber hit Townes again for the two, and McKenzie was in the hunt, trailing 24-22. That's as close as McKenzie would get.
"They talked to somebody and they covered Haynes, so that opened up Noah, who had a great night" Carroll said. "We're talented enough that we have someone else who can catch the ball. Someone gets hurt, someone else steps up to run the ball."
Newsome struck again for a 75-yard blast down the right sideline to score 24 seconds later. He ran in the two-pointer which put a cap on the scoring.
Newsome was the offensive MVP for Bethel Springs, Crabb the defensive MVP. McKenzie's Mitch Merrick earned his second defensive MVP award, which is the first time that has happened. McEwen, with his bowl-record 85 receiving yards and a score, was the offensive MVP for the Rebels.
Surber was 9-23 passing for 129 yards, all bowl records. He also led the MMS Rebs with 29 rushing yards. Mitch Merrick had seven tackles to lead McKenzie. Cameron Oakley also had seven stops.
Crabb was 4-5 passing for 129 yards and his passer rating of 362.72 is a bowl mark, and he ties Surber with passing yardage. He also had seven tackles.
"We came out and played well and played a really good football team in the McKenzie Rebels," said Franks. "I'm proud of my guys, they stepped up and played well. It was just a great ballgame."
Bethel Springs ends its season with a 7-1 overall mark. McKenzie hangs up the pads with a 6-2 worksheet.
MCKENZIEREBELS.COM BOWL RECORDS
BOWL GAME TEAM RECORDS
*NEW Team total yardage: 2011 Bethel Springs - 358 yards
*NEW Most total yards, both teams (McKenzie vs. Bethel Springs) - 2011 - 532
Team rushing: 2008 McKenzie - 233
*NEW Team passing: 2011 McKenzie, Bethel Springs - both 129 yards
Fewest passing yards: 2009 Gibson Co. - 1
Most points in one quarter: 2006 McKenzie - 16, 2009 McKenzie - 16, 2011 McKenzie 16
*NEW Most plays: 2011 McKenzie - 43
Most points, one team: 2009 McKenzie - 34
Most points, both teams: 2009 - 58
*NEW Most first downs: 2009 McKenzie - 13, 2011 Bethel Springs - 13
Most first downs, both teams : 2008 - 23
Punting average: 2007 McKenzie - 2-39
*NEW Most time of possession: 2011 Bethel Springs - 19:25
Largest deficit: 2009 Gibson Co. - 18 points
Most penalties, one team: 2007 Medina - 10-60
Most return yards, one team: 2009 Gibson Co. - 7-180
BOWL GAME INDIVIDUAL RECORDS
*NEW Most yards rushing: 2011 Tata Newsome, Bethel Springs - 18 carries, 216 yards
*NEW Most carries in a game: 2011 Tata Newsome, Bethel Springs - 18 carries
*NEW Longest run from scrimmage: 2011 Tata Newsome, Bethel Springs - 75 yards
Most return yards: 2007 Carlos Walden, Medina - 3 returns, 163 yards
Longest return: 2007 Carlos Walden, Medina - 94 yards
*NEW Longest pass play: 2011 Dylan Crab, Bethel Springs - 76 yards
*NEW Longest pass reception: 2011 Darius Sanders - 76 yards
*NEW Most receptions in a game: 2010 Keenan Taylor, McKenzie, 2011 Chase Kelley, McKenzie - 4
*NEW Most receptions yards in a game: 2011 Noah McEwen, McKenzie - 85
*NEW Most rushing TDs: 2008 Drake Parker, Union City - 3, 2009 Junior Chavez, McKenzie - 3, 2011 Tata Newsome, Bethel Springs - 3.
*NEW Most completions: 2011 Jack Surber, McKenzie - 9
*NEW Most pass attempts: 2011 Jack Surber, McKenzie - 23
Most receiving TDs: 2007 Avery Phillips, Medina - 2
Longest punt: 2007 Michael Curry, McKenzie - 44 yards
*NEW Best passer rating: 2011 Dylan Crabb, Bethel Springs - 362.72
Most tackles: 2007 Michael Keel, Medina - 9; 2009 Danny Evans, Gibson Co. - 9