By: Jim Steele
McKenzie sophomore Joseph Miller had a breakout night, carrying 21 times for 252 yards Friday as the visiting Rebels bageled West Carroll 28-0.
Miller had touchdown runs of 9, 19 and 48 yards as McKenzie ran from the Wildcat formation for much of the first, second and third quarters. For his second TD, Miller earned 51 of the 55 yards on the scoring drive.
Despite Miller's effort, and a pretty solid performance turned in by the McKenzie defense, who limited West Carroll to 71 total yards, the Rebels were still a bit inconsistent on offense. Yes, McKenzie did start cashing in on breaks, but it missed a few opportunities, especially early in the game.
McKenzie fumbled on its opening drive, which was recovered by War Eagle Blake Davidson, but West Carroll returned the favor when McKenzie's Elijah Horton fell on a loose ball. From there, the Rebels drove down to the War Eagle 4 when Davidson stopped Miller on fourth down.
The Rebel defense stiffened and forced the first of seven three-and-out series. McKenzie redeemed itself this time when Miller bolted 19 yards for the initial Rebel score with 5:13 to play in the first quarter. Lucas Waddell booted the first of four PATs and the Rebels led 7-0.
McKenzie's Elijah Horton sacked West Carroll quarterback Trace Fuller to end the first quarter, but McKenzie still wasn't very sharp on offense to start the second.
West Carroll's Jarrious Weatherford bolted 21 yards for the longest War Eagle gain of the night, but the drive sputtered, setting up McKenzie's next scoring drive. Devin Nash punted to the Rebel 45 with 7:16 remaining. That's when the Rebels started to grind with the Wildcat formation. Miller had runs of 22, 11, 9 and 9 and the Rebels took a 14-0 lead with 5:25 to play.
After another three-and-out possession, McKenzie didn't take long to get back on the board. They covered 55 yards in :39 seconds as Miller dashed 48 yards for the score. McKenzie led 21-0 with 2:20 left in the half. The Rebels had a chance to tack on more, but a missed field goal nullified that opportunity and McKenzie took a 21-0 advantage into the dressing room.
The Rebels third-quarter start wasn't especially crisp. The defense did force another three-down series, but McKenzie sputtered out of the gate. Miller attempted his first pass of the game and was sacked by Garrett Brooks. The Rebels punted back to West Carroll two plays later.
West Carroll started to catch some breaks and McKenzie appeared to be its own worst enemy. Fuller hit Weatherford for a 35-yard pass and a roughing call was tacked on to the end of the play. But Fuller was sacked by Lorenzo Haynes two plays later, creating a fourth-and-31 situation. McKenzie blocked the ensuing punt, but the Rebels fumbled the ball right back to West Carroll on the first play after the kick. Fuller hit Chris Shear for 23 yards to the McKenzie 39 and appeared to have something cooking, but Luke Spivey picked off a pass on the first play of the final frame.
The turnover set up McKenzie's final scoring drive, a 10-play, 71-yard drive that took 5:15, ending in Deaaron Diggs 10-yard TD run.
McKenzie finished with 343 total yards, including 307 on the ground.
West Carroll falls to 0-2 on the season and will host Humboldt Friday, Sept. 1. McKenzie, 1-1, will enjoy an open date next Friday then host Scotts Hill, coached by former McKenzie standout Daniel Duncan, Friday, Sept. 8.