By Gary Smith
In the Peabody vs. McKenzie region match-up played last week, the two teams took different approaches in attempts to shorten a 42-0 game.
Peabody successfully executed its offensive and defensive game plans to build a 35-0 lead at halftime and evoke the ‘Mercy Rule’ and a continuously running clock for the entire second half. On the other hand, McKenzie attempted to shorten the game by using a run-oriented ‘old school traditional’ offensive set.
The Tide completely dominated the game in all phases. The home team amassed 285 total yards and 42 points and limited the Rebels to only 12 yards rushing, 91 total yards and zero points.
“McKenzie showed a lot of things on film offensively. They are a multiple, very diverse offense. We practiced a little bit longer this week, because we did not know what we were going to get. They came out in a completely different offense that we actually prepared for, but we had not seen on film. They had used it a couple of years ago, when they beat us at their place. So, we prepared for it and we were ready, when they came out in a three-back Solid I set. It was obvious they were trying to shorten the game out of that set, so fortunately, we stopped the runs really well in the first quarter,” explained Peabody Head Coach Shane Jacobs.
PHS senior wide receiver Noah Halbrook showcased his athletic versatility with two touchdowns in the first quarter. The playmaker returned the opening kickoff for a 78-yard TD and caught a 26-yard scoring pass from quarterback Cooper Baugus for two-of-eight touches that would enable him to contribute 224 all-purpose yards. Isaiah Hicks kicked both extra points to buoy the Tide to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first period.
Preseason all-state quarterback Cooper Baugus made a compelling argument for why he deserved the recognition as he engineered three scoring drives in the second quarter to help PHS tally a total of 35 points and wind the clock for the “Mercy Rule” in the third and fourth frames.
After Trenton’s relentless defense relegated McKenzie to going three-and out and provided prime field position in the neighborhood of midfield, Baugus capped the five-play series with a 27–yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper. Hicks booted the extra point for a 21-0 lead.
With the Peabody defense shutting down the McKenzie running game, the Rebels tested their passing game. The visiting team was able to snap the ball a dozen times before Halbrook intercepted a pass to end the possession. Jarel Dickson’s 21-yard burst advanced the football into striking distance for Baugus to keep the ball for a three-yard TD. Hicks negotiated the extra point for a 28-0 advantage, with four minutes left in the first half.
Just before intermission, Baugus scored from 10 yards out for his third rushing TD of the game and Hicks tacked on the extra point for an in surmountable 35-0 lead.
“We wanted to get the offense on the field as much as possible in the first half, but it was difficult because they tried to shorten the game. Our defense played aggressive and our offense was extremely efficient tonight. I thought we ran the ball really well, but didn’t get an opportunity to throw it too much. In games like this, it is difficult to decide how much you want to throw the ball. In the future our throwing game is going to have to be there, so we are going to have to continue and mix the pass in. You feel like you are running the score up on guys, but you also have to worry about yourself and make sure you are getting yourself better too. That is kind of the battle we are fighting internally in games like this. How much is low class and how much is being smart and working on ourselves and making sure we are getting better and not leaving out a phase of our offense that we can do,” explained Coach Jacobs.
N the third frame, Jacquez Wilkins’ two-yard blast accounted for Trenton’s sixth touchdown of the contest. Specialists Colton Cloyd, long snapper; Eli Hammonds, holder and Hicks, kicker converted their sixth consecutive extra point to make the final score 42-0.
Reserves played the majority of the second half.
Statistically, Peabody registered 240 yards rushing and 45 yards passing for 285 total yards and 10 first downs and McKenzie managed 12 yards on the ground and 79 yards through the air for 91 total yards and seven renewed series. Tide quarterback Cooper Baugus completed two-of-three passes for 45 yards and one touchdown and Rebels’ signal caller Evan Jarrett went 10/23/2 in the aerial department.
PHS recovered its only fumble and MHS did not drop the ball. The home team was penalized on four occasions for 30 yards and the visiting squad was flagged five times for 25 yards.
Offensive leaders included: Noah Halbrook, with five carries for 101 yards; Baugus, with five scrambles for 52 yards and three touchdowns; Jarel Dickson, with five rushes for 63 yards; Jacquez Wilkins, with two runs for two yards and a TD; Drequan Vaughn, with three tries for 14 yards; Ja’Darren Easley, with two attempts for seven yards and Sam Driggers, with one keeper for one yard and Halbrook, with two receptions for 45 yards and one TD.
Top defenders included: Wilkins, with six solo tackles, three assists and two sacks; Triston Cook, with four primary strikes and one secondary hit and Rafe Hannah, with three initial contacts and two help-outs.
Next, Peabody (3-0) begins a four-game road trip, with a stop at Jackson South Side on Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
“We are looking forward to playing South Side. They are a program, on the rise the last couple of years. We are looking forward to going to Jackson and playing a really talented football team. I had the opportunity to coach at South Side for several years. They always have a really good program and always have a good football team. We will be stepping up in enrollment playing a Class 4A team. Coming into the season, we wanted to find some quality teams to play,” acknowledged Coach Jacobs.