By: Jim Steele
McKenzie's game at Union City was one for the books.
The record books, that is.
McKenzie took the host Tornadoes to the limit before coming short on a last-second drive. UC escaped with a 56-54 Region 7AA victory.
The total number of points (110) was a single-game mark for the Rebels. Joseph Miller carried 28 times for 323 yards, breaking the McKenzie single-game rushing mark he set at West Carroll on Aug. 25. He scored six rushing touchdowns, breaking the previous MHS mark of five, set by Punk Akers (1947), Ryan French (2005) and Tyler Moore (2007). His seven total touchdowns for the game is a record as well.
Additionally, the 1,252 total yards amassed by both teams is an MHS single-game mark, eclipsing the 1,110 combined yardage in McKenzie's 54-53 victory over Lake County, Oct. 14,2005. Union City's 669 yards is a record set by an MHS opponent, surpassing Huntingdon's 598 total yards on Sept. 23, 2005. The 16 combined TDs were a single-game MHS milestone.
Needless to say, Union City's electric bill for scoreboard usage may be a bit on the high end next month.
Union City drove down to the Rebel 2 wth 1:39 to play and faced a fourth-down conversion. A Rebel stop would result in a McKenzie victory. The Tornadoes eaked out a first down by inches and scored two plays later on Braxton Waddell's 1-yard plunge at the :38 mark to lift UC to a 56-54 lead.
The Twisters almost left just enough time for the Rebels to consolidate a last-second drive. Rebel senior quarterback Zach Jarrett hit Cameron Rawls for a 20-yard gain, then, two plays later, found Lane Horton, who went out of bounds after a 17-yard haul. The Rehels had the ball on the UC 17 with 1.4 seconds left, but the last-second pass fell incomplete and the Tornadoes escaped with a big regional victory.
The loss drops MHS to 4-5 on the year and 2-3 in the region with Gibson County left to play. McKenzie needs to beat the Pioneers in Dyer and then hope for an Adamsville victory over Trenton-Peabody to get into the playoffs.
The two teams met at midfield for a pre-game coin flip, but the officials might as well have waved the green flag. The race was on.
Conner Hurt bolted 60 yards, setting up Union City's first score, a TD burst from quarterback Braxton Waddell with 9:29 to play and the Twisters were up 7-0. The Rebels returned the volley when Jarrett located Tyler Spivey for a 39-yard hookup to the UC 45. Miller added a 17-yard run, followed by Miller's 5-yard TD two plays later. The conversion pass failed, but the Rebels were on the board with 7:00 to play in the opening frame.
The Rebels stopped Union City on the ensuing possession, one of two times the Rebs stopped it. Two plays into the MHS drive, Miller raced 71 yards to give the Rebels a 12-7 lead with 4:09 left in the first. The Rebels led 12-7.
Union City responded with an 18-play drive that straddled the first and second quarters. The Tornadoes converted one of their five fourth down plays, which landed them on the Rebel 12. Two plays later, Waddell scored from the 1 with 10:22 to play in the half. Jaden Woods nailed the second of his eight PATs and UC held a brief 14-12 margin. Josh Cannon's ensuing 95-yard kickoff return vaulted the Rebs in front again. Jarrett hit Spivey for the deuce and McKenzie led 20-14, 17 seconds later.
Waddell's pass to Andrew Easley set up Kaleb Craig's 17-yard scoring run with 7:15 to play and the Tornadoes led 21-20. An onside-kick attempt backfired on UC as the Rebels started with pretty good field position. Jarrett's 14-yard completion to Rawls set the table for Miller's 39-yard paydirt dash. The Rebels led 26-21 with 6:48 to play. Back came Union City, thanks to Craig's 74-yard jaunt with 6:00 to play. Union City led 28-26. The Rebels replied with a 37-yard TD gallop by Miller with 4:17 left in the second. The Rebels went back n front 32-28. Just over a minute later, Craig rang the bell again for UC, this time from 17 yards for a 35-32 lead. The Rebels looked like they caught a big break. Jarrett hit Miller for an 81-yard swing pass with 2:05 to play and the Rebels took a 38-35 lead into the break.
Out of breath yet?
The Rebels also received the second-half kickoff.
And just like that, 26 seconds into the third quarter, Miller sprinted 55 yards, then Jarrett hooked up with Rawls on the conversion. McKenzie looked as if it had made the first big dent of the game, leading 46-35. Union City replied with a 19-yard run with 9:51 to play in the third and it led 46-42. That's how the fourth started.
With 9:00 to play in regulation, Waddell put Union City back in front after his 30-yard scamper. UC led 49-46. The Rebels came right back with a big pass play from Jarrett to Lane Horton for 43 yards that camped MHS to the 2. A couple of plays later, MIller scored from the 1 wth 5:40 to play. Jarrett linked up wth Spivey on the PAT and the Rebels recaptured the lead 54-49. Union City responded with the go-ahead TD and the Rebels conducted a thrilling last drive that fell just short.
Craig led Union City with 27 carries for 291 yards. Waddell carried 30 times for 212 and Hurt had 13 totes for 143.
Jarrett was 10-15 for 249 yards and a TD. Horton had three catches for 71, Spivey 3 for 55 and Rawls 3-42.
Union City is 7-2, 4-1 in the region and will host Halls next Friday.