BY SHEA ODOM
The Greenville Standard
The 5-3 McKenzie Tigers traveled to Florala Thursday night, Oct. 14, to battle for a playoff spot. The air was thick and the crowd was electric as the Tigers demanded a 44-35 victory over the Wildcats.
Florala hit the turf pounding after receiving the kick-off. The Wildcats made a hard push down field, but the Tigers came ready to battle.
McKenzie junior, Reese Stephens, intercepted the ball on the 36-yard line on third down. The Tigers gained yardage but were unable to reach the red zone with a fast three and out.
The Wildcats offense took control of the ball on the next possession and were the first to break the plane for the night following a long touchdown pass. The PAT was good and Florala led the Tigers 7-0 with 6:50 on the clock in the first quarter.
McKenzie junior Kamern “Bo” Daniels and the Tiger offense quickly got in action with a long drive down field for the first Tiger touchdown of the night. The PAT failed and the Wildcats maintained the lead 7-6 with 6:39 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers and Wildcats defenses maintained momentum on both sides closing the first quarter out with Florala leading 7-6.
McKenzie took over at the 12-yard line after Florala stalled on downs. Daniels took the ball for another long drive downfield for a McKenzie touchdown.
Senior, JaKarrie McPherson completed the two point conversion and the Tigers took the lead 14-7 with 9:13 left in the second quarter.
The Wildcat offense came back on to the field to answer the Tiger defense with a long run down field eventually making the way to the end zone. The PAT was no good and the Wildcats trailed 14-13 mid second quarter.
Daniels, once again, would make a scoring run for the Tigers. Following a fake kick, senior Zanderion Cook completed a two point conversion widening the lead 22-13 which would stand until half.
The second half opened as fiery as the first half as Cook received the Wildcat kickoff and ran it down to the 19-yard line before being brought down. The Tigers were unable to cash in on the red zone.
The Wildcats took possession and quickly march down to score. The two point conversion was good leaving the game 22-21 with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
The McKenzie offense came right back and scored following a long drive down field by Cook and sophomore Tray Rudolph. The two point conversion was good and the Tigers led 28-21 with 9:05 left in the third quarter.
Daniels, being no stranger to the end zone, once again found end zone and Cook completed the two point conversion, which increased McKenzie’s lead 36-21 late in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats would answer with a score but were unable to complete the two point conversion making the score 36-27 with 3:49 left in the game.
McKenzie’s McPherson then forced a Wildcat fumble with sophomore Jayden McMillian scooping up the ball and running it to the end zone for another big touchdown. Rudolph completed the two point conversion increasing the Tiger lead 44-27.
Florala would score once more but McKenzie recovers a final try for an onside kick and sews up the win.
McKenzie will travel this Friday night to the Battle of 8 Mile for in county rival Georgiana with a 7 p.m. kickoff.