By Gary Smith
Friday 13th proved unlucky for Peabody as the Golden Tide was upset 22-20 in a Region 7-2A match-up last week at McKenzie.
The Tide’s loss to the Rebels scrambled the Region 7-2A playoff picture as five teams remain in contention for the league’s four post-season berths.
Last week’s game at McKenzie was a defensive struggle for the first three quarters. The Rebels held an 8-7 lead until both teams’ offenses synchronized to tally 27 points in the final frame.
After the first three series ended with punts, McKenzie finally lit up the scoreboard with a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The series was capped with Lane Horton’s eight-yard touchdown burst and Zach Jarrett’s point-after-touchdown (PAT) pass to Josh Cannon to give the home team an 8-0 advantage midway through the initial period.
Undaunted, Peabody answered with a six-snap, 58-yard trek that was highlighted with Cooper Baugus’ 24-yard TD on a quarterback keeper. Zach Grooms kicked the extra point to trim the deficit to 8-7.
Defenses dominated play to force 10 unproductive possessions for the ensuing 2 ½ quarters. In the final five minutes of the game, the offenses took over to generate 27 points.
Baugus broke free for his second touchdown of the game on a 19-yard scramble and Grooms booted the extra point to thrust Peabody in front 14-8. The lead was short-lived as speedster Tyler Spivey retuned the ensuing kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown. Horton added the two-point conversion and McKenzie was in front 16-14 with 4:41 left in the game.
The fast pace continued with Jarel Dickson tallying a TD on a one-yard plunge to culminate a quick scoring series. Baugus was stopped short of the end zone on the two-point try, but Trenton had retaken the lead at 20-16 with 3:51 showing on the clock.
With the outcome of the game appearing to be determined by which team had the ball last, McKenzie ran the clock with a rugged ground game, which featured Horton on almost every carry. On the eighth snap, he powered his way over right tackle for a four-yard touchdown. The PAT pass was incomplete, but the Rebels went ahead 22-20 and put the pressure on Peabody to score with only 37 seconds left.
Cameron Rawls intercepted a desperation pass at the buzzer to preserve McKenzie’s 22-20 win.
“Our guys played as hard as they could. At the end of the day, we just made too many mistakes to beat a good football team. This is a tough district. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. We have got to play better than what we did, but our guys will learn from it. They always do. We will learn from our mistakes and be a better football team next week,” vowed Peabody Coach Shane Jacobs.
He continued, “The loss is disappointing because we had a great week of practice. The guys did everything we asked them to do. We just made too many mistakes.”
Statistically, Peabody registered 255 yards rushing and 36 yards passing for 291 total yards and nine first downs. McKenzie managed 163 yards on the ground and 59 yards through the air for 223 total yards and 13 renewed series.
Baugus completed six-of-12 passes with one interception, and the Rebels went 7/16/0 in the aerial department.
PHS did not drop the football, and MHS relinquished one-of-two fumbles. The visiting squad was penalized on eight occasions for 90 yards, and the home team was flagged five times for 30 yards.
Leading rushers included (Peabody) Cooper Baugus with 19 keepers for 156 yards and two touchdowns and Jarel Dickson with 12 carries for 98 yards and one TD; (McKenzie) Lane Horton with 38 attempts for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
Top defenders included Brantley Whitwell with four solo tackles, four assists, one quarterback sack and one tackle-for-loss; Je’Nevee Robinson with four primary strikes and one secondary hit; and Bryce Franks and Eli Hammonds with two individual contacts and four help-outs each. Franks also logged a TFL.
“If we had won tonight, we would have clinched a playoff berth. We have two district games coming up (TCA and Adamsville) and we need to win them both. This is one we really would have liked to have won, obviously, but I don’t know what this does in terms of the playoffs. The only thing we are focused on is not really scenarios, but getting better and finding a way to win next week,” explained Coach Jacobs.
Next, Peabody (6-2) hosts Trinity Christian Academy in a Homecoming game scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Homecoming festivities start at 7 p.m.