Patriots miss second half chances in loss to Brantley

BRANTLEY — Linden had its opportunities in the second half Friday night but could not cash in, falling to Brantley 20-12 in the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

“We made some mistakes here and there, but for the most part those were mistakes we should have been able to overcome,” Linden coach Andro Williams said.

The Patriots trailed 13-0 early, but got a 67-yard catch-and-run from Charles Blackmon Jr. on a D.J. Charleston screen pass to cut it to 13-6 just before the half.

Linden opened with a statement drive in the third quarter, going 65 yards on seven plays, feeding it to Keishaun Scott on six of those. Scott punctuated the march with a 20-yard touchdown run with 6:42 remaining in the third quarter. Linden failed to convert the 2-point attempt and remained down 13-12.

The Patriots would then rely on their defense to maintain good field position, allowing them to run 16 offensive snaps deep within Brantley territory on their next three possessions.

Linden failed to capitalize on the first of those, punting from the Brantley 37. The Patriots then marched all the way to the Bulldog 2 and put the field goal unit in before a high snap negated the scoring opportunity.

“We talk about all three phases of the game we needed to play. On special teams, we lost that battle tonight,” Williams said. “Those are small parts of the game that are big parts of the game. Those are things we’ve got to do to try to finish the game.”

“Our defense has been great all year. We felt like if we could get a stop there, we had a shot,” Brantley coach Ashley Kilcrease said.

The final Linden chance ended when Riley Jobin-Valention intercepted a pass at the Brantley 5 and took it out to the Bulldog 40.

Three plays later, Brandon Walker hauled made the grab on a third down slant route and went 47 yards for the backbreaking touchdown.

“Linden is so good against the run,” Brantley Kilcrease said. “This week the game plan was to put (Walker) out on the edge. He caught two big touchdowns for us.”

Walker scored the first touchdown of the night on a 20-yard pass from Jacob Free and the second Brantley score on a 7-yard run.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Kilcrease said. “Coach Williams does an outstanding job. He’s a class act. Linden is lucky to have him.”

“I’m real proud of our coaches and players for making the adjustment throughout the game and giving themselves a chance,” Williams said.“Brantley is a great football team and they deserved to win. My heart goes out to our young men tonight.”

Scott finished with 94 yards on 19 carries and intercepted a pass on defense. Xavius Coleman led the Brantley defense with 15 tackles including four for loss and three sacks.

Walker had 130 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches.

Linden ends its season at 7-4. Brantley advances to face Billinglsey next week in the Class 1A quarterfinals.