It is said that Defense wins games, but in week one it was the Miner defense that kept Linton in the game at Huntingburg this past Friday night. In the game, Linton was until a two minute-plus stretch where two interceptions put Southridge deep in Miner territory, and thrust the Raiders to a quick 14-0 margin. The Miner offense showed signs of life on their opening drive. From their own 28 Linton marched to the Raider 45, converting two 3rd downs along the way with carries from Gabe Eslinger and Hunter Johns; however, a pitch out fell untouched on a 3rd and 7, and that lost 8 yards forcing a Miner punt to end what would be their only threat of the night. In fact, Linton would not cross the midfield stripe the remainder of the night.
A fabulous Jaydan Miller punt buried Southridge at their own 8, but the Raider offense behind Senior QB Chase Taylor ran off 15 plays with their power running game reaching the Miner 15 yard line. But Linton stiffened as the Raiders went to the air, and on 4th and 7 Taylor’s pass for Cameron Gasser sailed high and into the arms of Linton’s Trey Goodman at the 1 yard line. He returned it to the 19 but took a big hit that jarred the ball loose. Miner Sophomore Hunter Gennicks was “Johnny on the spot” with the recovery to keep possession.
The next two Miner possessions were uneventful other than (1.) a Goodman to Eli Poe 21 yard pass, and (2.) later a Goodman scramble for 33 yards on a 3rd and 14. That 33-yard run would be the Miner’s 4th First Down of the game, and it would also be their last in the contest. Both possessions were ended by breakdowns, as Goodman was sacked for an 8-yard loss and a holding penalty forcing another great Miller punt. Still, the Miner defense was able to keep the Raiders out of the end zone. Junior Drew Smith bolted in from his linebacker spot to drop Gasser for a 6-yard loss to stop one drive, while backside pressure from Junior Dalton Carpenter forced Taylor to run where Gennicks and Miner Senior Landon Giles stopped him at the Miner 24 to end the first half.
The 0-0 halftime score flashed back to the Sectional meeting of 2017, where an identical 0-0 score was on the board at the half. Unfortunately for the Linton faithful, the end result would nearly mirror that 20-0 result in the 2nd half too. The Defense did their job out of the gates in the 2nd quarter forcing a 3 and out. Then the bottom fell out with the first of two interceptions on a 3rd and long from Linton’s 39. It wasn’t the pick that hurt, but the return by Raider speedster Gasser. He made the grab at his own 37, and he eluded several tackle attempts, then switched direction to the Raider sideline. He nearly found paydirt, but Goodman was able to get him out of bounds at the Miner 15. Runs by Parker Kippenbrock and Matt Springer put them at the 4, where Springer put the first points on the scoreboard at 8:17 of the 3rd. Jaylon Leon drilled the PAT for a 7-0 Raider lead. Then it got worse, as just three plays later Goodman, under serious pressure from Ricky Pflanz and others, let loose essentially a fly ball that had been tipped. Raider safety Aiden Jochem was the 1st to reach the lame duck at the Linton 41, then ground forward to the 30, giving Southridge another short field opportunity. They would do so from the 4 yard line with a Taylor keeper, and Leon’s conversion made it 14-0 at the 5:35 mark of the 3rd.
From there on, it was downhill for Miners fans. Only 16 yards of offense that was offset by 10 yards of penalties. Yet the Linton defense would stop the Raider momentum with a stop on 4th and 2, as Springer was met by Smith at the line at the Miner 39; however, Goodman was sacked for the 2nd time, which lead to another Miller punt just into the final quarter.
Again, the Miner D would force a three-and-out, but with the offense at a standstill, which included a failed 4th and 2 from the Linton 20, another short field would benefit the Raiders. Southridge would easily march 18 yards with Taylor’s 2nd rushing score on a run of 5 yards untouched. Leon was spot-on with the PAT kick for a 21-0 margin at 6:24 left in the game. Linton would come out in an odd formation with five players lined up wide left, only to see sophomore Reid Schroeder read the play perfectly splitting the formation and directly into the passing lane of Goodman. The pass intended for Johns was easily picked off at the 16 and strolled into the end zone. The pick six made it 28-0 with Leon’s 4th perfect kick.
It was all over but the shouting at this point. Linton failed on 4th and 5 from their own 29, giving the Raiders another short field; however, most 2nd teamers were in play for Southridge now. While they did reach the Miner 3, Coach Buening showed typical class by having his QB take a knee for three consecutive plays to end the game.
The Miner defense was the high-point of the night. Led by 20 total tackles from Smith at ILB, and 15 from Eslinger. Gennicks added 12 from his outside linebacker post. Jaydan Miller contributed 7 tackles from free safety, and Junior Eli Poe was in on 8 passes defended. The defensive backfield of Goodman, Miller and Poe performed well holding Taylor to just 3 completions on 13 attempts and just 35 yards including 1 pick. Linton would give up only two plays of 20 yards, but no huge plays. Southridge amassed 249 yards on the ground led by Springer’s 65 and Gasser with 61. Holding the Raiders to 284 total yards is a positive to build on for what is in reality a young squad, considering that Southridge started 2 drives inside the Miner red zone. Several first time varsity starters lined up on both sides of the ball at the impressive facilities at Southridge.
It should be added that a new wrinkle is in the Miner offense to go with a complete change of skill position personnel other than Goodman in this 3rd year at Quarterback. Offensive shut-outs are a rarity with only three in the last ten years; and two of those were at the hands of Southridge. The numbers offensively were not much to look at with a mere 88 total yards, 51 on the ground, and 37 in the air. Considering 54 of those yards came on two early 1st quarter plays, the offense will probably get a lot of attention going into week 2. Goodman led with 23 yards on 9 carries, and Eslinger with 18 on 10. Goodman was 3 of 13 passing, but also had 3 interceptions. Poe had 2 catches for 29, and Johns had the other catch for 8 yards. Southridge was swarming on defense, which was led by Gabe WIlkey’s 8 tackles and Kippenbrock’s 7.
Last year, Linton ran off 9 consecutive wins after an initial loss to Southridge. That was indeed a senior-laden team with several multi-year starters though.
They will seek their 1st win facing long-time arch-rival Sullivan at Sportland Field next week. They won 35-12 in 2019 at Linton. Sullivan put up 48 in a 48-19 win over North Knox to open up their season.
Southridge: Matt Springer 3 Yard Run (Leon PAT) 8:17 3rd
Southridge: Chase Taylor 5 Yard Run (Leon PAT) 5:35 3rd
Southridge: Chase Taylor 5 Yard Run (Leon PAT) 6:24 4th
Southridge: Reid Schroeder 16 yard Interception Return (Leon PAT) 6:11 4th
L: Goodman 9-23; Eslinger 10-18; Johns 5-10; Smith 4-0
SR: Springer 13-65 (TD); Gasser 9-61; Taylor 14-50 (2 TD); Schroeder 2-31; Kippenbrock 5-16; Fuller 1-11; Niehaus 3-10; Witte 1-5
L- Goodman 3-13-37-0-3 SR: Taylor 3-13-35-0-1
L: Poe 2-29; Johns 1-8 SR: Jochem 1-19; Springer 1-8; WIbbeler 1-8
Total Offense 88 284
Rushing 28-51 1.82 51-249 4.88
Passing 3-13-37 23.1% 3-13 23.1 %
YAC 12 25
First Downs (T-R-P-Pen) 4 (3-1-0) 15 (14-1-0)
Penalties 5-26 3-26
Turnovers (Fum Lost-Int) 0-3 0-1
3rd Down Conversion 3-12 (25.0%) 9-16 (56.3%)
4th Down Conversion 0-2 0-2
Red Zone 0-0 3-5 (60%)
TOP 18:42 29:18
Possession-Score 10-0 10-3
Tackled For Loss 7- (-17) 4- (-15)
Sacked 2- (-18) 0
Punts 5-32.80 3- 30.00
Kickoff 1-24.00 5-33.20
Punt Return 1-11 2-14
Kickoff Return 5-41 1-0
Explosive Plays (20+) 2 2
Three and Out 5 2
Plays (Tot-Rush-Pass) 41 (28-13) 64 (51-13)