Linden runs over McKenzie

Dewayne Charleston, Jr. (1)  looks for blocking after intercepting a McKenzie pass.

Dewayne Charleston, Jr. (1) looks for blocking after intercepting a McKenzie pass.

LINDEN — Terrance Sanders and Prentiss McQuiston handled most of the load Thursday, combining for 350 yards on 57 carries as Linden dispatched McKenzie 42-16 in the second round of the AHSAA, Class 1A state playoffs.

“They ran hard. They checked their character tonight and they grew up a little bit,” Linden coach Andro Williams said of his tailback tandem’s performance.

Linden (9-3) turned a Kynard Craig interception into points early when Terrance Sanders scored from 26 yards out for his first of five touchdowns on the night.

Terrance Sanders (14) reads his blockers during a first half run against the McKenzie Tigers.

Terrance Sanders (14) reads his blockers during a first half run against the McKenzie Tigers.

Only 30 seconds later, McKenzie (9-3) answered when Condie Pugh took a dump-off pass from Terrance Clemons 69 yards for a score. Harper Vinson added the conversion run for the 8-7 Tiger lead.

Linden regained the lead on the next possession with a 29-yard touchdown pass from D.J. Charleston to his younger brother Dequan Charleston. Sanders added the conversion run for the 15-8 lead.

McKenzie appeared poised to stay in it when Robert Shufford recovered a fumble forced by Hunter McCann to set up a 6-yard Anthony Grace scoring run. Vinson added the conversion to put McKenzie up 16-15.

Linden then marched 65 yards on 10 plays and took a lead it would never relinquish on a 3-yard Sanders touchdown run.

Tywan Smith wraps up a McKenzie runner as Jamon Evans (62) and Chris Rogers close in.

Tywan Smith wraps up a McKenzie runner as Jamon Evans (62) and Chris Rogers close in.

Sanders helped break the game open in the second half with touchdown runs of 8, 3 and 5 yards.

“We had a great plan and our plan took care of itself to finish the game,” Williams said of the 21-0 second half run by his Patriots. “They didn’t show us nothing that we weren’t prepared for. Our football team made plays.”

“They took the momentum from us in the second half. We knew the first drive coming out in the second half was going to be big. We stopped them, but we weren’t able to get anything going on offense,” McKenzie coach Josh McLendon said. “A good team like that, you’ve got to be able to have some momentum on offense, get a little bit going and give your defense a rest.”

Dequan Charleston chases down a pass that he would convert into a touchdown.

Dequan Charleston chases down a pass that he would convert into a touchdown.

As a team, Linden amassed 387 yards on 62 carries. McQuiston led the way with 197 yards on 32 carries while Sanders tallied 153 yards on 25 carries. The five-touchdown tally for Sanders gives him nine scores in two playoffs games.

Pugh paced McKenzie with three catches for 107 yards.

Linden finished the night with 439 yards of total offense on 68 snaps while McKenzie had just 167 on 30 plays.

The win sends Linden to the third round where it will play the winner of Friday’s contest between Maplesville and Geneva County.