By: Jim Steele
McKenzie fell behind early to visiting Dresden, then put together a couple of drives to lead 12-8 in the first period.
But turnovers amd mistakes proved costly right before the half and Dresden rolled to a 58-36 victory over the Rebels.
Dresden scored in the first minute of the game, then McKenzie put together a couple of lengthy drives to take a 12-8 lead. Dearron Diggs and Bryxton Biggs each scored in the first for the early in the second frame. The second score was set up by a 42-yard run by Bryxtson Biggs and an 11-yard pass from Zach Jarrett to Tyler Spivey. With 2:48 to play in the half, MMS led 12-8.
Dresden answered with a 41-yard TD run just over a minute later and the Lions regained the lead, 16-12. The Rebels fumbled moments later and the Lions recovered and scored with no time remining in the half. Zach Lewis scored on a 12-yard run and the Lions turned a deficit into a 24-12 lead at the break.
That was the difference.
McKenzie coach Paul Carroll said the miscues turned a manageable game into a snowball situation.
"We put the ball on the ground twice and they capitalized on that," he said. "Putting the ball on the ground, allowing big plays on defense, that was the difference in the game."
Carroll suggested, correctly, that the game was pretty much even if the turnovers and big plays were limited.
Dresden scored on the first play of the second half and tried to put the dagger in. Ricco Taylor scored from the 30 for a 30-12 lead. Tyrone Jones, moments later, picked off a pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown and the Lions led 36-12. Lewis scored his second TD of the game on a 3-yard run and the Lions led 42-12 after the fhird.
McKenzie didn't quit. With 6:07 in the fourth, Jarrett hit Spivey for a 30-yard TD pass, then Daerron Diggs scored the two-pointer the cut the lead 42-20. Dresden's Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. The Lions led 48-20. With 5:02 to play, Daerron Diggs scored from the 43 and the Rebels led 48-26.
Dresden scored its final TD on a quirky play, Lewis caught a pass for a sizeable game and lateraled at the last minute to Hudson Nanney and the Lions led 56-26. With 2:18 to play, A;ex Walker scored for a 56-32 lead. Garrett Swafford scored from the 13 for McKenzie, and the Rebels cut the margin to 18, 56-38.