PRAIRIE CITY - Dillon Bellmore scored on an 8-yard run with 2:13 remaining in the game and the McKenzie Eagles ended Prairie City's football season with a 30-22 victory over the Panthers in the opening round of the OSAA/US Bank/Les Schwab Tires Class 1A football playoffs on Friday, Nov. 12, at Don L. Parker Memorial Field.
The contest was a hard-fought, evenly played matchup between two good football teams, which saw Prairie City and McKenzie combine for 712 yards in total offense.
The Panthers had the advantage gaining 329 on the ground and 63 through the air, compared to the Eagles' 283 rushing and 47 passing, but came up short on the scoreboard.
"It was one of those games where we put enough points on the board to win, but just came up short on defense a couple of times," Prairie City coach Chris Wood said.
McKenzie scored first in the opening quarter on a 14-play, 89-yard drive which ended on a 2-yard run by Dillon Bellmore for a touchdown.
The conversion attempt failed and with 2:13 left in the first quarter, McKenzie was up 6-0.
The Panthers began drive of their own late in the first quarter from the 28-yard line.
Willie Rockhill engineered 12-play march capped off by an 8-yard run by the senior quarterback to tie the score with 8:08 remaining in the second period.
The conversion pass failed and the score remained tied until the Eagles scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 6-yard run by Ryan Rux with 3:09 on the clock. Rux ran for the conversion, giving McKenzie a 14-6 halftime lead.
The Eagles spread formation and motion-style of offense gave Prairie City some problems, but the Panthers managed to gang tough tough on defense for the majority of the first half.
Prairie City tied the score at the 4:20 mark of the third quarter on Rockhill's second touchdown run but during the 10-play drive, running back Brandon Lovell went out of the game with an injured ankle and didn't return.
"Jay Adams stepped up and did a great job, but we really missed Brandon on defense," Wood said.
Adams carried the ball six times for 59 yards and scored a two-point conversion.
McKenzie went up 22-14 on a 15-yard run by Forrest King mid-way through the fourth quarter, but the never-say-die Panthers came right back at the 3:53 mark on Rockhill's third touchdown run of the game to tie the score once again.
Rockhill carried the ball 15 times for 96 yards and Lovell had 95 yards on 13 attempts.
However, with Lovell out of the lineup, McKenzie was able to move the ball down the field to score the winning touchdown and bring an end to what had been a great Prairie City football season.
"It's been one good season for us, these guys played hard and are a great bunch of kids," Wood said. "They showed a lot of character and are a good bunch of young men. This was a good, solid football game where we just came up short."
The TriCo League champions finished the season with a 6-2 overall record.