By: Jim Steele
McKenzie followed up its 20-0 victory at West Carroll last week with a 42-14 triumph against visiting Gleason during middle school football action Thursday night.
The Rebels capitalized on mistakes early, jumped to a lead, built on it and kept the Bulldogs at a comfortable distance.
Rebel coach Paul Carroll said his team has shown improvement and is getting more confident.
"We're getting there," said the coach, "We're getting our confidence up, our execution is better and cleaner."
McKenzie caught a break early when, on fourth-and-six in the first quarter, Michael Floyd took a fake punt straight up the middle of the field for a 55-yard touchdown. Soon after, the Rebels fell on a Gleason fumble and scored on a 6-yard pass from Zach Jarrett to Brandon Baucom. With half a quarter to play, McKenzie led 14-0.
With little time left in the first quarter, Jarrett found Sean Beck on a pump fake. Beck was wide open and raced 66 yards for the TD. Branson McCaleb, who had another good game on both sides of the ball, ran in the deuce for the 22-0 lead when time expired.
On the next Gleason possession, Drew Basford recovered a fumble and the Rebels drove down the the Bulldog 7 when the drive fizzled. But the Rebels picked off a pass and returned it 25 yards for a score and a 30-0 lead at the half. Jarrett hit Beck for the two pointer.
Early in the third frame, Gleason's Ryan Cole got loose for a 57-yard TD burst. The PAT failed, but the Bulldogs were on the board, trailing 30-6.
The Rebels responded when Lorenzo Hughes broke 30 yards for a score with 5:51 to play in the third. The conversion failed, but the Rebels led 36-6.
Gleason scored with 6:57 to play in the game when Melvin Tyson darted 18 yards for the score. Gleason trailed 36-14.
Garrett Swafford took over the controls of the offense for the REbels and completed a pass to Dalton Dyer, which camped the Rebs at the 1. On the next play, Swafford skirted around the left side, using stiff arms and breaking tackles for the score. Swafford hit a wide-open Dyer in the chest with the coversion pass, but the Rebels were assessed a holding penalty. Instead, with :20 to play, the Rebels settled for a 42-14 victory.
"We took advantage of opportunities tonight and we made adjustments, but we still have things to work on," said Carroll. "We got after them defensively and then our young kids got in there and played aggressively and gave us stuff to look at down the road."
The Rebels improve to 2-3 and will host Milan 6:30 Thursday, Sept. 20 for the final home game of the season.