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  • Cassidy, No. 1 McKenzie roll past No. 4 Dresden

Cassidy, No. 1 McKenzie roll past No. 4 Dresden

There was a lot of excitement in the Dresden camp as its encounter with the No. 1-ranked McKenzie Rebels approached.

Last year, the Lions gave McKenzie its toughest test of the season. The Rebels prevailed 23-14 and eventually made it to the state championship game. There was reason to be optimistic, especially since Dresden had just about everybody back from last year’s team and had surged to a 6-0 record and a No. 4 ranking the Associated Press high school polls.

Someone forgot to explain things to the top=ranked Rebels, who rolled up  476 total yards, turned Dresden into a uni-dimensional team and captured a 40-7 Region 6A victory at Dresden’s Rotary Field. 

Evidently, McKenzie senior quarterback Jackson Cassidy didn’t get the memo, either. He was a one-man wrecking ball.

Cassidy threw for 174 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 164 yards and two more scores. Combined, he accounted for 338 total offensive yards and four touchdowns. Not to be outdone, McKenzie senior running back Marquez Taylor had 124 hard rushing yards and a pair of TDs.

This was a dominant effort for the Rebels, who, after sputtering early, imposed their will for the remainder of the game. McKenzie, as a result of this victory,  now has the inside track to the regional championship and a more favorable placement in the Class A playoffs next month. 

Dresden opened the game with just over a minute gone when Lion quarterback Tatum Oliver found Tristan Jett on a 93-yard touchdown pass. Mark Maddox kicked the extra point and the Lions led 7-0. Things were looking better for Dresden when Jaylyn Mitchell intercepted Cassidy at the Lion 20. But things would soon come crashing down for the Lions after the encouraging start before a standing-room-only crowd.

McKenzie scored on its next five possessions, ending when Nick Turnbow’s interception at the 11:16 mark of the fourth ended the streak. By then, McKenzie had crafted a 26-7 advantage.

McKenzie got on the board with 1:42 to play in to play in the first when he raced 39 yards down the right sideline for the score. Zach Aird booted the first of four extra points and the Rebels had evened the ledger at 7.

Dresden’s defense never could get off the field as the Rebels were 7-11 on third down. The Rebels got the ball with 11:54 to play in the second and marched 44 yards in six plays, resulting in a 2-yard TD burst from Taylor. McKenzie led for good 14-7. With 7:36 to play, the Rebels got the ball back, and despite two penalties and a play for negative yards, Cassidy connected with brother Jake Cassidy on a 31-yard aerial, setting up Taylor’s 3-yard scoring run with 3:05 to play in the half. The “swinging-gate” PAT attempt failed, but the Rebels held a 20-7 lead.

Aird intercepted Oliver’s pass with 1:26 to play in the half and the Rebels trekked to the Lion 9, where Aird booted a 28-yard field goal as the half ended. McKenzie led 23-7. McKenzie opened the second half with the football and sustained a drive that almost at up half of the third quarter. Aird finished the drive with a 33-yard field goal at the 6:08 mark. McKenzie led 26-7.

As the fourth began, Turnbow picked off Cassidy and gave Dresden a glimmer of hope with 11:16 left in the game. Four plays netted zero yards and the Lions were forced to punt. Cassidy marched the Rebels to the Lion 22 where he located Etijay Tharp for the score. McKenzie led 33-7 with 6:53 to play. McKenzie got the ball back and Cassidy ran it in from the 19 with 2:44 to play for a 40-7 score, prompting a running clock for the remainder.

Oliver was 8-20 passing for 147 yards. Jett was the top receiver with two catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. But the Lions ground game was shackled. Dresden had -8 total yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, McKenzie managed 293 yards on the ground and 164 yards through the air. Colt Norden had two catches for 43 yards to lead the Rebels. The Rebels, however, were flagged 13 times for 85 yards.

The Lions, 6-1, 3-1 in 6A, hosts No. 10 McEwen Friday night. McEwen topped Perry County 30-7 last Friday.  McKenzie, 7-0, 3-0 in 6A, hosts Gleason, who was idle last week.

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