McKenzie falls to Brantley
Third-ranked Brantley needed only 15 plays to put its Class 1A, Region 2 contest against McKenzie out of reach Friday night.
The undefeated Bulldogs (8-0, 6-0) relied on their high-octane running game once again to capture an early lead and come away with a 46-0 homecoming shutout over the Tigers (1-7, 0-6).
"It's Homecoming and we were able to get everybody in and everybody got to play a lot, so I guess as far as that goes, everything went about like we planned," Brantley head coach David Lowery said. "Our running game has been good all year. Our passing game really wasn't doing that well tonight, but our running game was about like it's been for the most part all year long."
Brantley finished the first the half with 232 yards of total offense including 197 yards on the ground and began calling off the 'Dogs with just over four minutes remaining until halftime. McKenzie's coaching staff said they knew all week the Bulldogs' running game would be tough to tame.
"We knew we were fighting an uphill battle," McKenzie's assistant coach Eartis Lee said. "I just told them that we were going to go into the game and play the best we could and try to hang in there and keep our team together. We've got a lot of young guys, 11 ninth graders and several eighth graders, and they're coming on."
Lee filled in for the Tigers' first-year head coach David Kirkland, who has been out all week with an illness.
Brantley scored on its fourth play of its first possession when senior running back Devaris Skanes danced his way into the end zone from 31 yards out. Sophomore place kicker Marcus Owens' point after kick split the uprights giving the home team an early 7-0 lead.
McKenzie's Satrick Rudolph stopped Brantley on its first play of its ensuing drive by intercepting junior quarterback Edgar Walker's pass. The Tigers weren't able to capitalize on the turnover after the Bulldogs' sophomore Chris Booker returned the favor by picking off Jonathan Bush's errant pass five plays later. Booker put the icing on the cake on the next play as he motored 79 yards for the touchdown. Owens' PAT was true padding Brantley's lead, 14-0.
Edgar was picked off once again on the Bulldogs' following drive by the Tigers' freshman Curtis Ball. Again, the visitors weren't able to capitalize on the turnover and were forced to punt after a three-and-out series.
The Bulldogs scored on the third play of their next drive on another 31-yard run by Skanes. The PAT was no good.
Brantley ended the scoring for the first half on their next drive when Booker hauled in Edgar's 18-yard pass. The PAT gave the home team a comfortable 27-0 halftime lead.
Brantley's coaching staff was able to give a lot of its younger players the opportunity to play, which Lowery believes will prove helpful down the road in the playoffs.
"We've been able to do that a lot, so obviously the experience is going to help down the road, but you get to a point where your starters aren't getting all the work they need either," Lowery said. "So it's kind of a catch 22."
The Bulldogs scored three more times in the second half, which was closed out by a 60-yard scamper by freshman running back Terrell Burnett.
McKenzie compiled 73 yards of total offense including -17 yards on the ground.
McKenzie will travel to take on Zion Chapel next Friday night in its last region game of the season.
Brantley will be on the road against Ariton to determine the Region 2 champion. Both teams are undefeated.