There was a time when the Miners and Cougar’s yearly meeting on the gridiron was a must-see game in the region. Most will recall the glorious battles of 2009 and 2008 — both sectional wins for the Miners — and both coming down to final plays to get that W. The last North Daviess win was in the regular season of 2010 in a 73-33 Miner bashing at ND. Since that game, the Miners have reeled off eleven straight wins, including an 81-20 payback in 2011. None of these games have been close with the average over that span of 44.9 margin of victory.
Coach Trent Fine has gotten the Cougars turned around in his third year at the helm. After a 2-8 start, they were 7-
4 in 2019 and 4-0 heading to Cougar Valley in what he termed a “program changer” for ND. North Daviess came to Linton last year 4-1, but left with a 48-15 loss. The game started just as the 2019 game did with a 3-and-out for the Cougar’s first possession, then Linton took advantage of a poor punt and used two plays to go 44-yards. Trey Goodman ran for 15-yards on his first carry, then a personal foul on ND put the ball at the 15, where Hunter Gennicks connected with Eli Poe in the end zone. It was Hunter’s third TD pass of the season, and Poe’s second TD catch. The Cougars handed Linton a golden opportunity in their next possession with a bad snap on another 3-and-out punt. Hunter Fine was forced to just cover the ball at the Cougar’s 24. But credit the North Daviess defense aided by a holding call, kept the Miners at bay as Gennicks’ pass to Trey Goodman fell incomplete on 4th-and-4 at the Cougar’s 18. Still, the Cougar offense could not muster a first down—and only 4-yards of offense in their first three possessions. This time it took just four plays with Kaulin Padgett cutting up the middle and out-racing Cougar defensive backs for a 43-yard TD scamper. Now, I am not sure what was happening on the initial two PAT attempts! It was a unique formation on both occasions, but both attempts seemed to implode. It looked like Linton was in complete control, though, as they were ahead 12-0 with 4:44 in the 1st with ND yet to score a first down or touch Linton territory.
It was a 21-yard pass to Fine from QB Tanner Reed that seemed to ignite the Cougars. While still stymied in the
running attack, Reed went to Fine for 6-yards getting into Miner side of the field, then on 3rd-and-4 connected with Joshua Krusenklaus in the middle of the field. Krusenklaus switched directions and eluded a couple Miner tackles and cruised to the end zone to the cheers of Cougar Valley. ND tried to a two-point pass with freshman Brock Knepp, but it was incomplete leaving a 12-6 score with 2:29 still left in the opening quarter.
That energy carried over to the ND defense, as the Miners were stuffed on two runs and a sack of Gennicks by Spencer Strong, forcing a punt from the Miner’s 36. As he has all year long, Jaydan Miller booted a beauty that wound up at the ND 15, a 59-yard total. Junior Zo Jeffers got the first positive run of the night at 10-yards for a 1st down, but the Linton defense took over. Goodman made a solid stop on a Reed to Austin Webster pass play and the defensive line pressure Reed into an intentional grounding call. Goodman returned Fine’s punt to the Cougar 36, setting up another short field for Linton. The Miners chose to grind the ball with runs from Padgett, Gennicks, Gabe Eslinger and Hunter Johns, before Drew Smith bulled over from 3-yards out. This time, Linton went for the standard two-point play with Gennicks hitting a wide-open Bracey Breneman in the end zone.
Linton was now up 20-to-6 at 8:42 of the 2nd Quarter. ND was able to get a 1st down on another Reed to Krusenklaus pass, but went to the well too often, and Padgett picked a pass setting Linton at the ND 44. Four plays later, Gennicks threw a perfect lob pass into the breadbasket of Eli Poe for a 39-yard gain to the ND 5. Then, Eslinger got his first TD of the season from 5 out. Gennicks hit Smith on the two-point conversion, and Linton increased the tally 28-6 with 6:10 on the clock before the half.
The Cougars went to the air attack, but pressure on Reed was imminent from both Damien and Landon Giles, while Breneman tipped another pass away, and Johns with a couple tackled forcing another 3-and-out. From their own 45, Linton got back-to-back 8-yard runs from Smith, then 15 from Goodman to reach the ND 30. The Miners survived another holding call with Goodman with 9 and Gennicks with 7, and then they converted a 4th-and-2 with Gennicks on a 4-yard run to the ND 3. After a false start penalty, it was Gennicks to Poe for the 3rd time from the 8 with just 29 seconds left in the half. With Gennicks two-point run, Linton had blown the score up to 36-6. ND tried a total of six passes to end the half, but defense from Poe, Padgett, and Miller forced five incompletions as the half ended. Linton had dominated the scoreboard, and they certainly had nice numbers offensively with 216-yards. The Cougars had 126, and only 6 total rush yards on 12 carried, but had 120 in the air.
The second half started with the longest drive of the night from the Miner 10. It was highlighted by a Gennicks to
Padgett pass play covering 41-yards, followed by solid runs from Goodman, Gennicks, Padgett, and Breneman. It was Padgett scoring on a 4-yard run at 8:22 in the 3rd that put Linton up 42-6, and then none other than lineman Damien Giles powering over for the 2-point conversion. After a booming 45 -yard kickoff from Smith, ND started from their own 29 with a running clock. Defensive plays from Johns, Smith, Padgett and LB Braymon Lannan had the Cougars punting again. The Miners opened the drive with their third holding penalty pushing them back to their own 28. No problem at all, as another beauty of a pass from Gennicks to Goodman down the sideline advanced the ball 33-yards. Then it was Eslinger who caught a short pass and rumbled 39-yards to the Cougar 5. It would be Jaydan Miller getting the call with his first TD of the year, which closed out the 3rd quarter. This time the Miners tried the old- fashioned PAT kick from Goodman, but while it was a booming kick, it evidently was wide one way or the other. The Miner led 50-6 going into the final stanza.
The Coaching staff unloaded the bench at this point with several younger players under the Friday Night Lights.
However, this allowed Jeffers to get 58 of hit total 69-yards in a matter of five carries, including a 35-yarder to start this drive. The Defense rebounded with stops by Wrigley Franklin, Ty Boyd, and Nathan Watson. At the Miner 10, it was Eli Poe, who, after dropping an interception 2 plays prior, made good with the pick holding the Cougars out of the end zone.
The JV offense had a couple runs from Thomas Edwards and Logan Walker, but Miller came in to punt another boomer of 48-yards. From the Cougar 38, Jeffers bolted for 19 stopped by Cody Pigg, but got nowhere on 2nd down with Cody Jackson and Bradyn Cox on the stop. However, back up QB Knepp hit Fine for a short pass that Fine turned in to a 41-yard score. Knapp then escaped the Miner rush and threw across the field to complete the two-point conversion to Justin Fox. The JV would fire one more salvo as southpaw Boyd heaved a long pass for Walker that was just a yard too far, then Boyd taking a knee to end the game. Linton’s twelfth-in-a-row over the Cougars, 50-14.
With the running clock affecting final over-all numbers, Linton finished up with 221 rush yards with 11 different
Miners having an attempt. Padgett led in yards with 57 on just four carries, Gennicks with 50 on nine carries. Gennicks was 7 of 14 for 182-yards, and it was clearly his best effort of his young career at QB. He had two TD passes to Eli Poe, who had a total of 4 catches for 69-yards. There were also big plays in the passing game with 33-yards to Goodman, 39 to Eslinger, and 41 to Padgett. Linton just crossed over 400 in total offense (403).
ND was unable to run on the Miners, and wound up with just 67-yards on eighteen carries with almost all of that coming at the end of the game against JV defense; however, Reed put the ball in the air twenty-six times and connecting on eleven for 134-yards with one TD and two picks. Brock Knapp also connected 1 for 1 — the one with the 41-yard TD late in the game. Jeffers led the Cougars in rushing with 69-yards on sixteen carries, Fine had six catches for 88-yards with Krusenklaus four for 81, and each with a TD.
Linton had several players see action, with DeBruhl and Lynn still sidelined with injuries. Hunter Johns with six tackles from OLB, five from Gabe Eslinger at LB, and four from Drew Smith at LB also. We saw Aiden Giles and Wrigley Franklin on the Dline, and Bracey Breneman at ILB too. The Giles twins (Damien and Landon), as well as Dalton Carpenter, pressured Reed much of the night. Eli Poe was involved on five passes played breaking up two and intercepting another.
The Cougars will host the Chargers of North Decatur next week. They defeated 3 A 0-6 Rushville last week 48-0.
Linton will return to Roy Williams Field to meet the North Knox Warriors on Homecoming Night. The Warriors dropped a 35-19 game to highly respected 3-3 2A Rensselaer Central in a game held at Covington on Saturday. North Knox (2-2) has had cancellations due to Coved 19 quarantines, including Pike Central last week, but NK and Rensselaer Central put together this contest on Thursday of last week. RC’s opponent, Lafayette Central Catholic, had to cancel, as well.
Linton: 36-221 (5 TD)
K.Padgett 4-57 (2 TD); H.Gennicks 9-50; T.Goodman 6-22; D.Smith 6-29 (TD); H.Johns 1-10; G.Eslinger 3-8 (TD); B.Breneman 2-8; J.Miller 1-5 (TD); T.Boyd 1-6; L.Walker 1-4; T.Edwards 2-0
Z.Jeffers 16-19; T.Reed (2-(-2)
H.Gennicks 7-14-182-2-0 T.Boyd 0-1-0-0-0
T.Reed 11-26-134-1-2 B.Knepp 1-1-41-1-0
Linton: E.Poe 4-69 (2 TD); K.Padgett 1-41; G.Eslinger 1-39; T.Goodman 1-33
N.Daviess: H.Fine 6-88 (TD) ; J.Krusenklaus 4-81 (TD); A.webster 1-4; J.Fox 1-2
Linton: Johns 6; Eslinger 5; Smith 4; Poe 3; Boyd 3; Jackson 3; Padgett 2; Miller 2; Franklin 2; Goodman 2; Grounds 2; Lannan 2;
NDaviess: Steffey 6; Strong 6; Krusenklaus 6; Owens 5; Miley 4; Fox 4; Webster 3
Total Yards: Linton 403; ND 242
First Downs: Linton 18 ND 10
3rd Downs: Linton 3-7 ND 2-10 4th Downs: Linton 1-2 ND 0-1
Red Zone: Linton 6-7 ND 0-1
Penalties: Linton 6-44 ND 5-52
PAT: Linton 0-1 ND 0-0
2 Point: Linton 4-6 ND 1-2
Punting : Linton Miller: 2-107 53.33 ND: Fine 7-173 24.7