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McKenzie remains perfect in region with win over Kinston

The Kinston Bulldogs dominated the clock, but little else Friday night as the visiting McKenzie Tigers improved to 6-1 (4-0 in region play) with a 35-14 win.

Despite Kinston’s flailing 2016 season thus far, McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris told his Tigers to expect a fight in Kinston. And it’s exactly what they got, despite what the scoreboard would suggest.

“I’ve got to give them a lot of credit. Kinston came out and went with a little two-tight end double wing offense, the kind that will lull you to sleep and just keep pounding you and running the clock,” Norris said.

“We were able to score a couple of times in that first half, and the defense shut them out in the first half so we went into halftime up 14-0.”

The halftime breather also gave the Tigers time to correct some misfires on the offensive side of the ball, and it showed in their second-half production as McKenzie tacked on another three touchdowns in the second half to outpace the Bulldogs once and for all.

“The kids just kept playing throughout the game, and we were able to execute a little better in the second half than we did in the first,” Norris said.

Even better for McKenzie is that a number of key Tigers saw some rest on the bench in the fourth quarter, once the game was well out of hand.

And that rest will prove crucial in the week ahead.

Georgiana, next week’s opponent, is an easy pick for one of the most critical games of the regular season.

Separated by 8 miles and a desire for a region title, the Panthers will prove McKenzie’s toughest opponent thus far.

“Coach Powell has done a great job with those kids over there in Georgiana, and it’s going to be a great challenge for us—one that I’m interested in seeing how we handle,” Norris said. “So we’re going to rest up this weekend and get back to work on Monday.”

What’s more is that the stakes have never been higher between the Tigers and the Panthers. There’s something much more valuable than a year’s worth of bragging rights on the line.

“This is what you play high school football for,” Norris said.

“Both teams are coming in undefeated in region play, so whoever is able to win this game next Friday will really be in the driver’s seat in the region, and they’ll really control their own destiny and what goes on from there.”

The Tigers will travel to Georgiana Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.