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McKenzie falls in back-and-forth battle with Linden

The McKenzie Tigers and the Linden Patriots fought to a stalemate after trading blows until the end of the first half. But it was the Tigers who found themselves on the ropes in the 11th hour as the Patriots outlasted the visiting McKenzie team 38-28.

While the Patriots ultimately claimed the second-round trip, it was the Tigers who owned the first half with a dominating run game carried by Chris Shufford and Jay Womack to the tune of a 16-13 halftime lead.

In fact, the Tigers remained firmly in control for the majority of the game—that is, until the fatigue of playing multiple players on both sides of the ball took a toll and fatigue reared its ugly head.

McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris said that it was no lack of effort on the Tigers’ behalf.

“We took the fight to them,” Norris said.

“But I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.  They played their guts out tonight.  They played with a lot of passion and intensity. They left everything on the football field, and that’s all I can ask anybody to do.”

The trading of blows began when the Tigers drove the length of the field before the Patriots forced a turnover on downs near the red zone, where they mounted a response with a lengthy drive of their own, culminating in a score and the lead.

But the Tigers immediately responded with a kickoff return for a touchdown to regain the lead.

But a near-interception for the McKenzie defense slipped through the cracks and fell into the hands of a Patriot receiver, permanently swinging momentum in Linden’s favor.

Though the Tigers’ season is at an end, the team’s impact on Norris is only beginning.

“I told my seniors at the end of the game that if they continue to show or have characteristics that I’ve seen this year, they will be successful young men in life,” Norris said.

“It’s been a privilege to have these seniors that I have.  They have led the football team and gone above and beyond.

“Now is the time for the juniors to take over this and start putting their fingerprints on this team and see what kind of team they want to have next year.”