Florala dashes Tigers#039; playoff hopes, 52-24

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2006

Big plays doomed McKenzie early on Friday night as the Tigers saw its playoff hopes shattered against the Florala Wildcats, 52-24.

Wildcats' quarterback T.J. Fleming tossed three touchdown passes and running backs Ro Williams and Michael Carson combined for a pair of scores effectively shutting the door on the Tigers (3-6, 3-4 Class 1A Region 2) before halftime.

Florala (5-4, 4-3 Class 1A Region 2) led 38-8 after two quarters of play.

&#8220Big plays killed us early on,” said McKenzie head coach Miles Brown. &#8220It's just heartbreaking for these kids. They prepared really hard for this game. It's a learning experience, but we hoped we could come out with a victory.”

Brown said he was proud his team was in a position to make the playoffs, especially after going 0-10 last season. A win over Florala on Friday night would have guaranteed the Tigers a fourth-place finish in the region.

Instead, it will be the Wildcats claiming that spot.

The Wildcats returned the opening kickoff to the McKenzie 18-yard line. Fleming struck on fourth down and 12 yards to go, finding a Florala receiver for a 20-yard touchdown pass. With 11:04 remaining in the second quarter, Fleming then hit Danny Bice on a square-end route and Bice turned it into a 34-yard touchdown.

Florala then capitalized on an interception thrown by McKenzie quarterback Sattrick Rudolph as Carson scored on a 4-yard run.

Rudolph responded with a big run to the Florala 33-yard line but the Tigers were forced to turn the ball over on downs. The Wildcats drove down the field and Williams broke loose for a 23-yard touchdown run.

McKenzie seized some momentum - it appeared - just before halftime.

Rudolph turned a fourth and one into a 32-yard scoring run with 1:54 remaining before halftime. Jarrell Mobley added the 2-point conversion for the Tigers and Florala led 32-8.

At that point, the McKenzie players were into the game. The fans were into the game. The coaches were into the game.

But on third and seven with only 59 seconds left, Fleming pump faked a short pass to a running back and then threw deep to Reggie Gundrum.

Gundrum was wide open.

The Florala wide out hauled in the pass and went 77 yards untouched.

Still, after falling behind 52-8 in the third quarter, McKenzie kept fighting.

Rudlolph scored on a 6-yard touchdown run, then added a 12-yard score in the fourth quarter.

The McKenzie defense recorded a safety in the final minutes of the game.

&#8220Our kids fought to end,” said Brown following the game. &#8220This is how you build a program. You get in the weight room during the off season and you think about games against Goshen, against Pleasant Home, and here tonight.”

The Tigers conclude the regular season next Thursday night against Red Level. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.