By: Jim Steele
McKenzie's offense had been somewhat inconsistent in its first two games of the regular season as the Rebel football team had sputtered to a 1-1 mark.
Then, the Rebels had an oddball Week 3 open date, an idle week that head coach Wade Comer wasn't sure about. As it happened, the open date came at the appropriate time and McKenzie was able to fine-tune its offense...and essentially spoiled the homecoming for former McKenzie standout and current Scotts Hill head coach Daniel Duncan.
McKenzie 43, Scotts Hill 7.
The Rebels seemingly fixed their offensive woes to the tune of a balanced 429 yards. They cranked up 214 yards on the ground and 215 yards through the air. Zach Jarrett and his receivers were on the same page Friday. He completed 10-14 passes for 215 yards and an interception.
Not to be outdone, sophomore running back Joseph Miller followed up on his single-game record 252 rushing yards at West Carroll two weeks ago with 148 yards against the Lions. Miller had touchdown runs of 45, 28 and 3 yards.
The Rebel defense had a pretty good outing as well, limiting Scotts Hill to just 116 total yards and just five snaps in the second half and two first downs for the entire game. McKenzie coach Wade Comer was glad to see his team start coming into its own.
"We were able to get all our phases in and we got several kids who can make plays and it started clicking," Comer said. "We were able to distribute the ball better and that makes Joseph more explosive. He is smooth with the ball. You think you have him hemmed up and he just slithers through."
The coach had praise for his senior quarterback, too.
"Zach showed huge improvement and it got him some confidence and that what is was all about," said the coach.
Duncan, visibly disappointed with his team's performance, said his team will go back to the drawing board.
"We have a lot of work to do. We had a lot of missed reads and missed keys and we'll get back to it Monday," he said. "They're a heck of a football team and they'll compete in their region this year."
McKenzie stopped Scotts Hill on downs during the Lions' opening possession and quickly went to work. Jarrett hit Lucas Waddell for a 13-yard pass, which set up Miller's 45-yard TD sprint a play later. Waddell booted the first of five PATs and the Rebels led 7-0 with 9:33 to play in the first. The Lions responded in lightning-fast fashion with a 72-yard TD burst on their first play of the next possession. The Lions had tied the game at 7.
From there, the Rebels imposed their will. On the next possession, Jarrett and Tyler Spivey hooked up on a fantastic 45-yard aerial that helped set up the next score. After a 20-yard bolt from Miller, Lorenzo Haynes rambled in from the 2 to give McKenzie a 14-7 lead.
McKenzie took a 21-7 advantage on the first play of its second possession of the second quarter after Miller's 75-yard dash. On the next drive, Jarrett drilled Waddell for 32 yards, then Lane Horton for 24 more. That set up Haynes second score of the night, this time from the 3. Waddell ran in the two-pointer and McKenzie led 29-7 with 3:46 to play. McKenzie closed the half strong. Jarrett found Cameron Rawls for a 34-yard hookup and Haynes took it in from the 5 for a 36-7 lead with 1:02 to play in the half.
When the second fram started, the Rebels opened with a five-play, 5:43 drive that ended with Miller scoring from the 3 for a 43-7 lead. From there, the clock ran continuously. In the fourth, McKenzie force two turnovers, an interception by Waddell and a fumble recovery by Brock Minton.
Comer was pleased with his team's defensive effort.
"They busted a touchdown on the second play and other than that, they didn't do a whole lot," Comer said. "Defensively, we've been pretty solid and now we have some offense going, so hopefully we can keep this thing rolling."
The coach re-emphasized how serendipitous the open date was during Week 3.
"It came at a good time for us because you never know, but I was worried about it being so early, but it came at a good time," the coach said. "We were able to get some things worked out from an offensive standpoint."
Scotts Hill, 1-3, will host Decatur County-Riverside Friday night. The Panthers captured a big 20-14 road win at Wayne County.
The Rebels will have a formidable task this Friday when Trinity Christian comes to town for a pivotal district game. TCA may bring an angry bunch of Lions to McKenzie after falling 35-30 to cross-town rival University School of Jackson.