No. 8 Linden High trounces sixth-ranked A.L. Johnson 52-0

LINDEN – In a high-stakes Top 10 match-up for county bragging rights as well as playoff positioning, Linden High School recorded a convincing 52-0 win over A.L. Johnson High Friday night.

Linden’s offense came alive after a sluggish first quarter to post a 26-0 halftime lead, and the Patriots, ranked No. 8 in Class 1A, never looked back in topping the sixth-ranked Eagles.

“I thought we were successful offensively last week when we scored 61 points,” said Linden head coach Andro Williams. “But it doesn’t matter who we play. We’ve got to line up and play every week. It’s nothing personal. A.L. Johnson has a great football team. But we’ve just got to go out and do things the right way every game.”

The visiting Eagles looked as though they would live up to their ranking, taking the opening kickoff and marching to the Linden 10, but the drive stalled and ALJ turned the ball over on downs. Linden responded by moving the ball to the Eagle 37, but A.L. Johnson’s Desmond Mair recovered a fumble to stall the drive.

After ALJ punted to the Linden 37, the Patriots put together a 63-yard drive that culminated with quarterback Dewayne Charleston’s one-yard keeper with 38 seconds remaining in the first. Charleston also kicked the PAT to give Linden the 7-0 lead after one period of play.

On the following series, LHS’ Davontae Knox picked off an Eagle pass at the 40 and returned it to the 23 to set up a fourth-and-goal Charleston-to-Henry Lee touchdown pass of nine yards early in the second. With Charleston’s kick, Linden took the 14-0 lead, and then stretched the margin to 20-0 midway through the quarter when Charleston hit Tywan Smith for 35 yards.

Prentiss McCuiston rounded out the first half scoring with a five-yard run with 1:25 remaining.

Linden took the second half kickoff and began a time-consuming 65-yard drive that was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Charleston to Devonta Poole with 5:30 left in the third, and shortly thereafter Cordarius Scruggs made the score 38-0 when he scored from 18 yards out.

In the fourth, Linden added two scores – the first on a 21-yard Jeffrey Minor run and the second on a Smith scoop-and-score with 11 seconds to play.

“We just didn’t play tonight,” said A.L. Johnson head coach Johnny Ford. “We weren’t focused and we weren’t disciplined. We didn’t show the character that we have in previous games. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times.”

Linden improves to 3-3 with the win, which includes a 3-1 mark in Region 4. A.L. Johnson is now 5-2 and is also 3-1 in Region 4 play. Next week, Linden travels to Akron while A.L Johnson visits Maplesville.