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Tigers 5-0 with win over Panthers, 35-18

Selling over 1,500 tickets Friday night, spectators to the in-county rivalry watched as the McKenzie Tigers came from behind to defeat the Georgiana Panthers, 35-18.

McKenzie received the ball first, but their initial drive ended with Eric Gomillion throwing an interception on Georgiana's 33 yard-line.

Georgiana's first possession ended with a fumble on McKenzie's 35 yard-line, but McKenzie couldn't move the ball and punted it back to Georgiana.

The first quarter ended scoreless with Georgiana driving on McKenzie's 14 yard-line.

The Panthers put the first points on the board with 9:35 left in the half as Cedric McMeans ran in from the 12 yard-line. The two-point conversion failed, but the Panthers led by six.

Then, as the clock read 3:55 in the half, Georgiana was forced to punt the ball from their 25 yard-line when a McKenzie defender touched the ball and then dropped it. Georgiana recovered the ball and retained possession, which setup Tony Johnson two plays later to break a 46-yard run for the Panther's second score. The two-point conversion bounced out of the hands of Johnson in the end zone, but the Panthers led 12-0 at the end of the first half.

The second half opened with Georgiana receiving the kickoff. The found the McKenzie defense ready for them, however, and had to punt the ball away. Russell Davison caught the punt and, breaking through the Georgiana defenders, returned the ball to Georgiana's 17 yard-line.

The next play saw Patrick Hamilton break threw to the six yard-line and then run into the end zone. The PAT was good and with 9:43 left in the third, McKenzie had put their first seven points on the board.

The Tigers would score again with 3:02 left in the third on a quarterback keeper. Eric Gomillion called his own number from the Georgiana 12 yard-line and ran in for six. Russell Davison's extra point was good and McKenzie had taken the lead, 14-12.

The third quarter expired as the Tigers were putting another touchdown on the board. With seconds left in the third, Patrick Hamilton broke a 25-yard run down the sidelines for a touchdown. The PAT was good and McKenzie's lead was 21-12.

Georgiana answered the score with kickoff return for a touchdown that started on the eight yard-line. Tony Johnson caught the kick and ran it 92 yards down the sidelines. The PAT failed and the score stood 21-18 with only the fourth quarter left to play.

McKenzie tacked on two more scores during the fourth quarter, the final came from a Patrick Hamilton 25-yard run with 34 seconds left in the game. The PAT was good and the Tigers marked this game a win, 35-18.

The Panthers put up 225 yards of total offense Friday night. Tony Johnson had 37 yards in nine carries. Charles Curry had 23 yards in five carries and Cedric McMeans had 18 yards on three carries. Quarterback Cornelius Bellamy completed three of 18 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers made six first downs.

McKenzie's Patrick Hamilton racked up 228 yard on the ground in 21 carries, had four touchdowns and made 15 tackles. Quarterback Eric Gomillion completed four of 10 passes for 58 yards and ran for 76 yards in seven tries. Russell Davison had three punt returns for 100 yards.

The Tigers racked up 386 yards and 14 first downs against the Panthers.

&uot;The boys showed a lot of heart to come back like that,&uot; said Coach Shane Smothers. &uot;I really appreciate the fans. They fired us up after half time. We challenged the offensive line to step up and they did. We challenged the defense to shut them up, and they did.&uot;

The McKenzie Tigers are now 5-0 for the season. The Georgiana Panthers are 1-4.

The Tigers will travel to Coffeeville next Friday and the Panthers will travel to Leroy.