Linden rolls up Fruitdale

LINDEN – Undefeated and No. 2-ranked Linden High School turned first half dominance into a second half rout as the Patriots whipped Fruitdale 67-6 at Linden Athletic Field Friday night.
“I thought controlling field position early was the difference in the game,” said Linden head coach Andro Williams, who saw his Patriots improve to 9-0 on the season. “Our defense played lights out. This was the most complete game we’ve played, except for a couple of penalties.”
Linden struck on its first possession. After taking a Fruitdale punt at the Pirate 46, LHS used a steady diet of running plays to get within striking distance. Jalen Lewis put Linden on top with a 13-yard run, and Marquise Shelton’s extra point gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead midway through the first.
Linden scored again on its next possession, which began at the Fruitdale 42 after another defensive stand and Pirate punt. After a block in the back penalty nullified Shelton’s 35-yard TD run, Shelton got the score moments later on a 22-yard rush. The PAT gave Linden a 14-0 lead with 2:49 to play in the first quarter.
Once again, Linden gave up virtually no yardage to the visiting Pirates, and a punt to the Linden 40 quickly turned into another LHS score as Jamal Lewis gave the crowd a thrill with a spinning, tackle- breaking 31-yard run with four seconds to play in the first.
Taking the 21-0 advantage into the second stanza, Linden continued its onslaught with Shelton touchdown runs of 20 and 6 yards that gave the Patriots a comfortable 35-0 lead at the half.
The Patriots wasted little time as play resumed, scoring on Jalen Lewis’ 54-yard run, Anthony Robinson Jr.’s 65-yard punt return and Prentiss McQuiston’s 46-yard sprint, all in the third.
Late in the period, Fruitdale mounted its best drive, marching to the Linden 2 before two quarterback sacks and two incomplete passes gave LHS the ball on downs. On the next play, however, a Linden fumble provided the Pirates another scoring opportunity at the Patriot 6. Fruitdale then punched the ball in for its only points of the night, as the two-point conversion pass failed.
In the fourth, Linden posted touchdown runs of 12 yards by Terrance Sanders and 17 yards by Cordarius Scruggs to provide final margin of victory.
“We’re trying to get ready for the playoffs,” said Williams, “and we’re trying to get our players into different game situations. We were able to do some of that tonight. We try to simulate it in practice, but that’s not the same as game situations,” he added. “At this point in the season we’re trying to work on the small things and get everybody healthy for the playoffs.”
Linden wraps up the regular season Thursday night at home against Southern Choctaw, before hosting its first-round playoff game Nov. 9 as the top seed in Class 1A, Region 1.