Patriots force Bears into early hibernation

Linden vs Keith-3537LINDEN—The Linden Patriots did what patriots do Friday night as they vigorously defended their home turf on the way to a 53-0 shellacking of the Keith Bears in the Class 1A state playoffs.

The No. 4 seeded Bears kept themselves in the game until the opening kick. The LHS defense made quick work of the Bears’ opening possession, enabling the Pats’ offense to set up shop at their Keith 43. Four plays and 1:57 later, Terrance Sanders crossed the goal line, giving Linden a lead it would not lose. A missed extra-point attempt saw the score at 6-0 with 7:36 left in the opening quarter.

Linden’s defensive unit, impenetrable all game long, made even shorter work of Keith’s next offensive possession, stifling the Bears’ offense and forcing a three-and-out.

Deguan Charleston watched as the kick took an awkward bounce before settling at his feet. This allowed Charleston time to survey the field and pick a lane to hit. It was the right choice apparently as the freshman shifted 65 yards to the house giving the Patriots a 12-0 lead with 4:53 left in the first.

Linden vs Keith-3509The Bears’ next drive started out promising as Keith grossed 30 yards in five plays. The next five attempts saw dissimilar results when a facemask, false start and sack would completely negate the momentum KHS was trying to obtain.

Sanders then increased the lead with a 28- yard scamper down to the Bears’ 29. Dewayne Charleston Jr. took to the air the next snap, connecting with Deguan Charleston for a 28-yard completion to set Linden up with a first-and-goal from the one.

Prentiss McCuiston would finish things off on a straight dive play with 11:30 left before intermission.

Linden would go on to add 13 more points before the break thanks to another hard-nosed run by McCuiston and a sideline scurry from Sanders, giving LHS a 32-to-0 lead.

The first 1:16 of the second quarter saw LHS add a 36-yard TD run along with a safety. The TD run came by way of a toss sweep play to Sanders. A bad snap on Keith’s next punt attempt would roll out of the back of the end zone, awarding the Patriots with two more points to make the score 40-0 in favor of the home team.

Linden vs Keith-3526Christopher Robinson helped put the final two Linden scores on the board. The first cane on an 11-yard TD pass to Kynard Craig with 7:23 left to go in the third. Robinson then snuck his way into the promised land from one yard out for his second, and Patriots’ last score of the evening.

“You can’t just play this game from the neck down.” Linden coach Andro Williams said, “We’ve got to play from the neck up as well. You’ve got to be a smart player within the course of the game. You’ve got to get the pre-snap reads. You’ve got to be able to realize what’s happening before it happens. It’s my job to get us prepared to play from start to finish. We miscued here. We miscued because we didn’t come being proactive about what we were doing.”

Williams, sounding very proactive himself, went on to add, “We’ve just got to continue to grind. We’ve got to humble ourselves. But at the same time, we’ve got to make sure we reiterate the importance of knowing what’s going on before it happens. It’s all about advancing right now. We’ve got to work ahead, be proactive, and do what we’ve got to do to follow suit on the precedent that’s been set here in Linden”

Linden vs Keith-3614Williams’ Patriots finished with 315 total yards on just 24 plays from scrimmage, besting KHS who could only muster a yard of rushing and 71 overall yardage on 42 plays.

Sanders led the always lethal Patriot rushing attack with 143 yards on eight carries and four scores.

McCuiston’s 36 yards all came after contact as he pounded his way to a two-touchdown performance on six carries.

Craig finished an impressive performance with one end zone trip via a 20-yard TD catch.

Robinson showed his diversity as he was responsible for one TD pass and one on the ground.

Deguan Charleston went over the century mark in return yardage while producing one score of his own.

Linden is set to host McKenzie Thursday night in the second round of the state playoffs.