There have been many heart-pounding finishes in this rivalry, and many a lifetime memory made, as well. The 2020
edition of Linton-Sullivan week ended by having both.
The game would finish deadlocked at 16 all with the Arrows marching 61 yards in 12 plays to score on Jaeden King’s 1-yard dive with just over a minute left in the game. It would be a keeper from Arrow QB Caleb Hughes to convert the 2-point play that tied things up. Linton would reach the Sullivan 49 on the game’s final play in regulation, setting up what would be Linton’s 4th overtime game dating back to 2000.
Much like in last week’s game, the Miner offense took their initial possession to the Sullivan 25 yard line, eating up over 5 minutes of time. It would feature three runs from Trey Goodman, who lined up at Wingback instead of Quarterback. However, Linton could not convert a 3rd-and-9, stalling the drive short of the red zone. The Arrows would mount their own 10-play drive, but on 4th-and-2, Linton’s Landon Giles caught Hughes for a 3-yard loss, giving Linton the ball at their own 49. The Miner offense again moved the ball deep into Arrow territory, as far as the 10-yard line. This drive featured a 17-yard Gabe Eslinger run, as well as keeps from 1st time starting QB Sophomore Hunter Gennicks. However, a big 15-yard loss on a sack by Sullivan’s Kaleb Queen set the Miners back.
Gennicks hit Goodman with a pass at the Arrow 2 on 4th-and-16, but he was stopped shy of the first down marker. Sullivan would get out from the own goal line with a Hughes-to-Drake 13-yard pass, but would have to punt. Linton would get a Goodman 15-yard run, but then also punt back to the Arrows. Linton’s defense continued to be strong forcing a three-and-out, which was made possible on a Levi Grounds tackle of King on a screen pass. Dylan Williams punt for Sullivan went straight-up and straight-down for just a 4-yard net giving the Miners a golden opportunity with just 1:33 in the half.
Gennicks twice hit Eslinger with short passes, and ran for 5 more yards to the Arrow 2, but with time counting down and no timeouts the Miners were flagged for not being set before the next snap. From the Arrow 6 on essentially the last play of the half, Gennicks rolled out and hit Eli Poe on an out pattern for the Miner’s first score of 2020. Gennicks also converted the 2 point play to put Linton up 8-0 as they headed to the half break.
That Miner enthusiasm was short lived as Sullivan came out with trickery to fire up the home crowd on a 40-yard deep strike. The play was a backwards pass from Arrow QB Rowdy Adams to SE Grant King, who then threw a perfect toss to Queen that would have been a TD if not for Eli Poe’s tackle at the Miner 21. A couple plays later, Adams hit Carter McKee at the 9, and appeared to be stopped a couple times, yet broke free to the end zone. Caleb Hughes ran in the conversion to tie things 8-to-8 at just 39 seconds into the 3rd quarter.
Momentum had definitely shifted colors and the Arrow defense stuffed the Miners, and Jaydan Miller punted to the Arrow 32. It would also be the last we would see of Miner co-captain Eslinger, who left with an apparent knee injury. Sullivan would again move the ball on Hughes keepers and a face mask penalty reaching the Miner 39, but Hughes would be stripped of the ball by Jackson Fields, and Levi Grounds was able to get on the ball for Linton. The Offense rebounded with an 11-yard Gennicks run, followed by 12 more from Drew Smith getting the Miners to the Arrow 31. But the Sullivan Defense stiffened, and Gennicks scramble on 4th-and-8 fell just 3-yards shy of the 1st down marker.
In last week’s loss to Southridge, it was turnovers was doomed the Miners. This week, it was Linton’s defense that
produced the key turnover. Miner OLB Hunter Johns was in perfect position to snag an Adams pass at the Arrow 31, and turning on the jets, he eluded 2 Arrows enroute to the end zone to send the Linton sidelines into celebration. Smith would make a leaping grab of Gennick’s pass for another 2 points, and a 16-8 Miner lead with 4:59 in the 3 rd Quarter.
Again, it would be the Miner D making a play with free safety Jaylan Miller played perfect center field on a long Adams pass from the Miner 37, making the interception at the Linton 6. The Miners used runs from Gennicks, Goodman, and Smith to get out the 42, but another holding call forced a Miner punt just into the 4th quarter.
Sullivan would be shut down on 3 straight running plays with stops by Levi Grounds, Bracey Breneman (in for the injured Eslinger), Damien Giles, Drew Smith, Landon Giles and Donovan DeBruhl. Linton would take over at their own 33 with 9:28 remaining, and try to ground out the clock with a time consuming drive. At 6:11, they could have almost put the game away on a 4th-and-2 at the Sullivan 36, but the snap exchange collapsed and the ball on the ground in the backfield. Smith tried to pick it up and run, but was stopped for a 3-yard loss. This set up the 12-play Arrow drive to tie and force overtime. That drive featured some key plays for Sullivan including a 15-yard pass from Hughes to Kelley on a 4th-and-12 and the Linton 24. There would also be a late hit out-of-bounds call, as well as an interference, all on Linton. King would score on his 3rd rush in a row to a thunderous Arrow home crowd response, but the biggest roar was on the Hughes conversion.
Linton has not fared well in overtime games. Since 2000 the Miners are 0-3, which included a 26-20 loss in 2018 and those bitter losses to Scecina and Ritter in Semi-State games. Going into this OT, the momentum again seemed to be on the Sullivan side. They had first possession from the Miner 10, but Goodman dropped Hughes for a loss of 5, followed by a false start put the Arrows 3rd-and-20. Grounds and Giles would chase Hughes all over the field as the Arrow QB scrambled trying to make a play only to throw out of bounds. 4 th and 20 would see another Hughes scramble and a toss intended for Queen at about the Miner 1, but again it was Hunter Johns coming down with the ball. All Linton needed to do was score, and that would happen on the 1st play of Linton’s possession. It would be a memory made for a lifetime for a young player making his first start at Quarterback, as Gennicks rolled to his left, and eventually tucked the ball and sprinted for the left corner of the end zone. With a great downfield block from Smith, Gennicks cut inside and hit pay dirt for a Miner celebration.
The win was the second in a row against the Arrows with Linton winning 16 of the last 20 meetings. It was also a big turnaround for the Miner Offense with 251 offense, compared to just 88 last week. 209 of it on the ground with 69-yard from Gennicks, 51 from Goodman, and 48 from Smith. Gennicks was 6 of 13 for 42 yards passing hitting 3 to Eslinger, 2 to Poe and 1 to Goodman.
Linton’s Defense, as coach Oliver stated, is where the Miners hand their hats, and held a Sullivan offense to just 44-yards on the ground and a total 179. Sullivan was led by Jaeden King’s 37 rush yards, with another five arrows combining for 7-yards. Sullivan QBs hit on 10 passes out of 22 for 135 yards, 40 of that on one pass from Grant Bell to Karver Queen. The Miners were led again by Drew Smith with 11 total tackles on defense. Miller added 6, Eslinger and Jackson Lynn with 5 each, and 4 from Damien and Landon Giles, Hunter Johns and Jackson Fields. In fact, Hunter Johns had a big night with 2 interceptions, one of which was a pick six was 31 yards out. Both teams evened their records to 1-1.
Looking ahead, Sullivan heads to 1-1 4A Northview this Friday, while Linton hosts their first game of 2020 with the 1-1 Monrovia Bulldogs. Monrovia comes in 1-1 with a win over 3A Edgewood 20-8 last week. Linton came away with a 35-0 shutout of the Bulldogs last year, in a series that has produced two final play decisions. Linton has won 3 of the 4 meetings since renewing the series in 2016.
Linton: Eli Poe 6 Yard Pass From Hunter Gennicks (Hunter Gennicks Run) 0:11 2 nd
Sullivan: Carter McKee 9 Yard Pass from Rowdy Adams (Caleb Hughes Run) 11:21 3 rd
Linton: Hunter Johns 31 Yard Interception Return (Gennicks to Drew Smith Pass) 4:59 3 rd
Sullivan: Jaeden King 1 yard Run (Caleb Hughes run) 1:12 4 th
Linton: Hunter Gennicks 10 Yard Run Overtime
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT
Sullivan 0 0 8 8 0
Linton-Stockton 0 8 8 0 6
L: Gennicks 13-69 (TD); Goodman 12-51; Smith 12-48; Eslinger 8-36; Johns 2-(-1)
S: King 17-37 (TD); Newby 4-10; Williams 3-6; Adams 1-1; Bell 1-(-2); Hughes 9-(-8)
L- Gennicks 6-13-42-1-0 S: Adams 4-10-49-1-2 Hughes 5-11-46-0-1; Bell 1-1-40-0-0
L: Poe 2-14 (TD); Eslinger 3-13; Goodman 1-15 S: Queen 2-52; Drake 2-31; Bell 3-28; Kelley 1-15; McKee 1-9 (TD); King 1-0
Total Offense 251 179
Rushing 48-209 4.35 35-44 1.26
Passing 6-13-42 46.2% 10-22-135 45.5%
First Downs (T-R-P-Pen) 16 (15-1-0) 12 (2-6-4)
Penalties 7-83 4-38
Turnovers (Fum Lost-Int) 0-0 1-3
3 rd Down Conversion 7-14 50.0% 6-14 42.7%
4 th Down Conversion 0-4 2-4
Red Zone 2-3 1-3
TOP 26:11 21:49
Possession-Score 10-3 11-2
Tackled For Loss 6-(-19) 9-(-26)
Sacked 1-(-15) 2-(-1)
Punts 3-39.3 2-21.0
Punt Return 1-(-3) 1-19
Explosive Plays (20+) 0 2
Three and Out 2 3
Plays (Tot-Rush-Pass) 61 (48-13) 57 (35-22)
Featured photo is file photo, Linton v Sullivan 2015