Good teams take advantage of other teams mistakes and cash in on opportunities and the McKenzie Rebels accomplished just that as they defeated the Huntingdon Mustangs 34-12 to earn their third win in a row over their county rival. The win came at Paul Ward Stadium in Huntingdon and saw the Rebels cash in on two big plays in the first half to defeat the Mustangs.
McKenzie who last year made it to the state title game and returned the nucleus of that team made the first big play of the game on the opening kickoff. Marquez Taylor who is being recruited by several D-1 schools picked up the opening kickoff around the Rebel 15 and weaved his way down the visiting sideline to score with only 17 seconds off the clock. Zach Aird tacked on the P.A.T to give the Rebels an early 7-0 lead.
The Mustangs gambled on fourth down at their own 44 on the ensuing possession but the Rebel defense held and McKenzie took advantage of the field position when three plays later, McKenzie’s Jackson Cassidy hooked up with Aird for a 33-yard scoring strike with 8:20 left in the first quarter. Aird gave the Rebels a 14-0 lead with just a little over three minutes run off the game clock.
The Rebel defense then forced the Mustangs into a 3rd and 38 and took over at the Mustang 46 after a punt. The Rebel drive stalled and Aird came on to attempt a 45-yard field goal that fell short but the Mustangs were penalized for leaping and Aird then connected on a 30-yard field goal to give the Rebels a 17-0 lead with 1:16 remaining in the first quarter.
The Mustangs answered in two plays as Gray Eubanks on second down threw in the flat to tight end Easton Byars who broke several tackles and raced 66 yards to the Rebel one-yard line from where Eubanks snuck over two plays later to cut the Rebel lead to 17-6 after a missed extra point by the Mustangs with 11:19 remaining in the half.
In what could have been the play of the game came with 4:52 remaining in the half. The Mustangs had the Rebels pinned at their own ten and Cassidy looking to pass got a bad snap and the ball rolled to the back of the end zone as a couple of Mustangs pursued. Cassidy snagged the snap just before taking a safety and flipped the ball to Zay Webber who out ran the Mustang defense to the end zone for an 87-yard touchdown that actually covered 110 yards. Aird gave the Rebels a 24-6 lead that they took to the half.
The second half started with a Mustang punt and Cassidy went to work with his legs. The Rebels who only had three rushing attempts in the first half and gained two yards saw Cassidy on second down scramble for 64 yards and a touchdown with 8:36 left in the third. Aird then gave the Rebels a 31-6 lead as he converted the extra point.
After a Mustang punt Aird again gave the Rebel points as a McKenzie drive stalled at the Mustang 15 and Aird made his second field goal of the night to give the Rebels a 34-6 lead. The Mustangs scored the final points of the night as they drive 48 yards that took 12 plays and ended in Eubank’s second touchdown of the night on a one-yard run with 16 seconds remaining in the game. The missed extra point left the final score at 34-12.
For the night the Rebels rushed 13 times for 143 yards with 141 coming in the second half. Cassidy completed 8 of 12 passes for 171 yards and Cassidy also had 73 yards rushing on three carries. Taylor ended the game with 42 yards rushing on eight carries and caught three passes for 29 yards. Webber caught three passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. The Mustangs rushed 53 times for 139 yards and passed for 96 on 5 of 10 passes. Eubanks rushed 21 times for 45 yards and completed the five passes for 96. Meal Leavitt rushed 14 times for 52 and Elijah Flowers rushed four times for 26 and caught two passes for 13. Byars caught two passes for 74 yards.
Huntingdon 0-1 for the season will travel to Southside next week and McKenzie 1-0 and will host Chester County.