After a week of some of the best practices this season, Coach Brian Oliver said his Miners were prepared and motivated to move past last week’s surprise 27-14 loss to North Knox at the normally friendly confine of Roy Williams Field. Linton took to The Roy for the final time in the regular 2020 season, facing a beleaguered Eastern Greene squad sitting 1-6, as well as the losers of their last six games too. Perhaps thinking ‘Why not us?”, the Thunderbirds hopes were severely hindered by starting five freshman on both sides of the ball. Coach Bruce is trying to rebuild a program that was at Lucas Oil in 2017 as State Runner-Up, a year after Linton won the State A Title in 2016 after back-to-back state final games.
It certainly did not help the T-Birds to be the next up after the Miners were handed an upsetting loss to a team they had not lost to for over ten years. The Miners only loss in twenty meetings with EG came in 2017 with that state run for Eastern, 35-12. Otherwise it has been dominated by Linton with nineteen wins, including 2019’s 68-12 shellacking at Cincinnati (“Little Cincinnati” for non-locals). Linton certainly came into this game as heavy favorites, but it was also a game where little mistakes would not be tolerated. It would be a game the coaching staff would be looking for consistency and elimination of bad habits that had attributed to losses thus far in 2020. Linton Seniors Trey Goodman, Damien Giles, Landon Giles, Levi Grounds, and Braymon Lannan took to The Roy with their fellow Miners at 4-3, and hey were looking to get back on-track.
Defensively, Linton was dominant. It was a lot to ask Freshman Evan Rogers and Sophomore Braxton Deckard to direct an offense under full-attack from an angry Miner defense. Credit is due to those two, who alternated at QB, as well as all the Thunderbirds who still went after it play-after-play and not backing down. Basically, I saw 3 or 4 Seniors on the field and the remainder being underclassmen. Linton would indeed dominate the opening quarter with 21 points on their opening three drives. Eastern had (-20) yards in that first quarter due in part to a Levi Grounds sack of Rogers of 13-yards and another 14-yard loss on a Gabe Eslinger sack of Rogers. The topper, and perhaps biggest hit of the year to these eyes, was Eslinger’s second sack of the quarter with an 11-yard crushing hit of Deckard. WTHI had it as the “hit of the night” in the Wabash Valley.
Linton had forced a T-Bird punt to start the game, but that punt lost 3-yards, giving Linton the ball at the EG 16. It took one snap for a Miner touchdown, as Hunter Gennicks laid a perfect pass to Eli Poe in the corner of the end zone at 10:04. Jaydan Miller, who had not attempted a PAT all year, was el perfecto on his first try. It was Poe who caught the next pass, except it was not intended for him! Deckard tried to hit Trevor King, but Poe made the pick returning it 11-yards to the EG 45. Gennicks ran for 8, then Trey Goodman for 16, to EG’s 25. Gennicks then hung on to a high snap, winding his way for 16 more yards to the 9. It would be Kaulin Padgett jettisoning himself to the right side and out-running all for another Miner score. Yet again, Miller nailed the PAT, and Linton was up 14-0 at 7:11 of the opening quarter.
Senior Ty Rollins got Eastern’s initial 1st down on a hard-nosed run up the middle for 14 yards, but that would be as far as that drive would go. Eslinger, Dalton Carpenter, Drew Smith, Hunter Johns, and Levi Grounds all combined on the next three plays, setting up Eslinger’s sack of Rogers on 4th-and-5 at midfield. Another 10-yard scramble from Gennicks, then Padgett scampering 20 more, putting Linton at the EG 6, where Trey Goodman slammed in for another Miner TD. Jaydan Miller hit his third in a row PAT, and Linton led 21-0, all still in the first with 2:10 left.
Eastern was again held to three-and-out as defensive tackles Donovan DeBruhl and Jackson Fields wreaked havoc on EG’s run attack. Linton then ran their lone play from their side of the field, but EG was offside, putting the Miners at the Eastern 48. Drew Smith ran a couple of plays, gaining 12 for a 1st down at the EG 36. Miller got a rare carry, but had the ball poked out by 6’7 235 pound DE Bryan Rippy, where freshman Bryce Teague recovered it at the EG 29. The T-Birds would convert a 4th-and-1 from their own 38, as Rollins pushed for 2 yards before Smith met him. Then freshman James Lewis took a hand-off and was met by Carpenter up-front, and a trailing Cody Jackson, as well as Smith. It looked like it was Jackson who jarred the ball loose at the Eastern 43. The replay, which of course isn’t available to the officials on the field, clearly showed the ball go to the ground and bounce once straight up. Straight up into Gabe Eslinger’s hands, and he was off to the races for a defender’s dream. However, amidst all the high-fives and good jobs, the officials had huddled at midfield. Somehow, and for the second week in a row, an inadvertent whistle had hurt the Linton cause. This particular whistle was not going to affect the end result this particular night, but certainly took away a great moment for Eslinger. Nevertheless, two plays later the points lost were put back up again. A perfect toss from Gennicks to TE Grounds for 12, then another nice pass from Gennicks to Padgett at the EG 4 ,where he went in untouched. The 26-yard toss put Linton up 27-to-0. Then Miller hit his fourth PAT to up the margin to 28 with 7:41 left until halftime.
Eastern’s next drive garnered a first down run of 8 by Rollins, but another QB sack of Deckard forced a punt from the EG 47. The sack to Jackson Fields was set up by pressure from Sophomore Wrigley Franklin. Rippy’s boot bounced and rolled borderline out of bounds/endzone, then was picked up by Hunter Johns at the last moment at the Miner 1, causing many people’s blood pressure to rise. Johns indeed made a ‘go’ of it, winding through defender to the 20 where Rogers and King brought him down. Hunter Gennicks had what is becoming a trademark burst of 26 yards, combining open field moves and physical strength, to the Miner 46. Two plays later, a high snap bounced off Hunter’s hands and back to the Linton 37, where his attempt to pick it up was hampered by Giovanni Peyrani, and then Bryan Rippy fell on the loose ball. This gave Eastern their best opportunity by far of the night at the Miner 36 with 2:44 left in the 2nd. But there would be no-dice, as back-to-back Rollins runs were met by Smith, Carpenter, and Eslinger, then Rogers let loose deep for King after more pressure from Franklin again. Both Braymon Lannan and Trey Goodman were there with King, but Goodman made the catch at the Miner 29 to end the threat.
With 1:16 remaining, Linton worked on their hurry-up offense. Padgett broke free for 14 yards, then after missing Goodman on the prior play, Gennicks hit Trey in stride at the EG 48 where only a shoestring tackle by Rogers keeps the Miners from a score, albeit a 32-yard play. Gennicks scrambled to the to the T-Bird 10, then Poe caught the TD toss with 29 seconds remaining. A yellow “holding” flag took the points away and pushed Linton back to the 27. No worries, though, as Gennicks calmly fired a pass to a streaking Goodman across the middle at the end-zone with 17 seconds left. Miller hit his fifth PAT, and Linton went into the half up, 35-0.
The halftime stats were exactly what you would think with a 35-0 score. Linton had 260 total offense, and very balanced at 147 rushing and 113 passing. Eastern had been held to 0 yards, with 22 passing yards offsetting a loss of 22 rushing. Four turnovers had made things even worse, but consider that Linton had lost 2 two fumbles, as well.
The 2nd half would go by quickly with the running clock rule in effect. The Miners would work on the passing game and after an overthrow to Poe at the Eastern 40, Gennicks and Poe did connect for 13 yards. Hunter Johns would redeem a dropped pass one down earlier, and he take a swing pass at the T-Bird 40, then hit the boosters for an official 37-yard TD score. The play featured a key block from WR Ayden Riggleman. Miller missed his first PAT of the night, but the Miners were up 41-0 at 2:05 into the second half. Eastern had one of their few successful plays on a Rogers-to-Evan Ferkingstad, freshman-to-freshman, on a scramble and pass of 15 yards to the EG 45 for a 1st down. But that drive was ended on stops by Eslinger and Sophomore Nathan Watson, as well as Gennicks (on the defensive side at OLB) on a Rogers-to-Rippy pass, then Bracey Breneman on a sack of 10 yards forcing another Rippy punt. EG’s defense nearly had a 3-and-out on Linton, but an offside on 4th-and-5 kept the ball in Linton’s possession. Gennicks went 18-yards on an other scramble to the EG 24, but back-to-back Miner penalties pushed Linton back to the T-Bird 42. On the first play of the fourth quarter Gennicks launched a high pass to the right corner of the end zone, where Riggleman made his first catch of the season — and also his first TD. The PAT play turned into a “Fire” with an issue on the snap, and Gennicks made a long-pass to Drew Smith for the 2-points, putting the score 49-0.
Drew Smith cut loose with a 51-yard kickoff to the T-Bird 9, but Peyranni returned to the 32. Eastern was able to churn out a couple 1st downs on the Miner JV defense, but it was hard work. Rollins had an 8-yard run to start the series, and a 16-yard burst to the Miner 39; however, he would leave the game with a leg injury and left on crutches post game. Eastern would lose another Senior with a knee injury just seconds earlier when 6’0 350 pound William McArtor had to be helped to the bench and carted post-game. Deckard went to the air on the next three plays, but misfired on the first two, then was sacked by the combo of Sophs Ethan Myers and Canaan Bowers on 4th-and-12. The series saw solid pressure from LB Sophomore Bradyn Cox, as well as plays made by Freshmen Layten Rehmel and Ty Boyd, as well as Sophomore Jaxon Walker. The JV offense got its one chance with 4:44 left of the running clock, and they looked very good. The offensive line of Myers, Bowers, Watson, Freshman Blane Kirkman, Drake Fields, Jesse Vallad, and Matthew Lantrip were all getting playing time. It was Soph Thomas Edwards first with a 26-yard burst to the EG 31, followed by a 31-yard TD run from Soph Logan Walker that would end the scoring at 3:39 left in the game. Miller came in to kick the PAT, and that put Linton up 56-0. EG closed the game with four passes, three of which were complete to another freshman TE Brayden Campbell. Tackles were made by Cox, Edwards, Boyd, and freshman Christian Shonk.
Linton closed out with 244 rushing yards on just 24 carries. That 11.6 per carry average proof of a dominated performance up-front from a line missing a Senior starter in Damien Giles with a shoulder injury. Giles should be back this Friday at Providence. Donovan DeBruhl moved to Center for the first time this season from his normal Tackle slot, with Guards Dalton Carpenter and Wrigley Franklin, and Tackles Aiden Giles and Landon Giles. You have to include Tight Ends Levi Grounds and Bracey Breneman, and Tackle Cody Jackson in that list too. Gennicks headed the Miners rushing with 104 yards on 10 touches, followed by Kaulin Padgett with 43 yards on three carries. That was complimented by 190 passing yards by Hunter Gennicks on 10 of 18 passing with 5 TD passes. That five passing TD performance ties the Miner single game record held with the likes of Austin Karaszia, who did it four times in his career at Linton, as well as Keith Cunningham in 2008 against Wood Memorial. Jarman Lannan did it twice in 1987 and 1988. My apologies if there were any others over the years.
Eli Poe was the target ten times, catching 4 for 35 and a TD; Trey Goodman had the most yardage with 59 on 2 catches and a score; Levi Grounds with 1 for 12; and TD passes of 21 to Ayden Riggleman, 26 to Kaulin Padgett and 37 to Hunter Johns. It was a total 434 yards of offense compared to just 57 for Eastern Greene. The Thunderbirds ran thirty-five rush plays that netted negative 8 yards. That sum was hurt by a total of 60 lost yards on 7 Miner Sacks of the QB. Add another 21 yards lost on ten other rushes, which meant 17 of 49 offensive plays were negative yards and another 9 were incomplete passes.
A good effort was put forth by Ty Rollins with 16 carries for 55 yards, and that was really the only positive spin on the EG offense. Coach Roy alternated Evan Rogers and Braxton Deckard at QB, and Rogers had the most success hitting on 7 of 8 for 58 yards with an interception the only incompletion. Deckard was less successful with 1 for 9 for 7 yards and 2 interceptions. Over all, EG was 8 of 17 for 65 yards.
The Miners had pick-offs by Eli Poe (twice) and Trey Goodman, and Gabe Eslinger had the fumble recovery that should have been a TD! The seven sacks was the most in many years of Miner Football in recent history. Eslinger and Grounds led Linton with six tackles each with five from Smith, Fields, and Johns; four each from Breneman, Carpenter, Lannan, and Bradyn Cox. Eastern was led defensively by Rogers and Lane Stephens (yet another freshman) with six each. Five from Trevor King and James Lewis with four from Ian Borst. Linton outdid the T-Birds in First Downs 20-to-9. Third Downs: Linton 2-4 EG 2-12; Fourth Downs: Linton 1-1 EG 1-3. Each had five penalties with 47 yards against Linton and 30 for Eastern. Linton had ten explosive plays (20+ yards) to 0 for EG.
Jaydan Miller was not needed in the punt game, but kicked 6 of 7 PAT kicks through the uprights in his first appearance as place kicker. Drew Smith had a couple long kick-offs, but that average suffered with short squib kicks, as well. The game also saw the first action at DE from Junior Cameron Goodman, who has battled an injury all year. Linton is still without TE/LB junior Jackson Lynn, but, as mentioned before, should return senior Damien Giles this week. Next game, Linton makes the long trek to Clarksville, Indiana to face the Providence Pioneers to end the 2020 regular season. The now 5-3 Miners have won 2 of the 3 meetings with the Pioneers since this series started in 2017. Last year, Linton rolled to a 35-7 win at The Roy, and they won 40-34 thwarting a 4th quarter comeback in 2017, again at Linton. Providence jumped all over the 2018 Miners early in a 35-14 loss at Providence. Providence, coached by Daniel McDonald in his first year, sit at 3-4 are a 2A foe but in sectional 39. Do not take that record to heart as they opened shut-out losses to 5A 6-2 Floyd Central and 8-0 4A Silver Creek, and dropped a 20-14 to 3-5 2A Clarksville to start the season. They have won 3 of their last 4 (3A 2-6 Charlestown, 2A 1-5 Mitchell, and 1A 5-2 Milan). Their other loss was a 35-28 battle with an always strong Holy Cross of Kentucky.
- Linton-Eli Poe 16 Yard Pass From Hunter Gennicks (Jaydan Miller PAT Kick) 9:43 1st
- Linton- Kaulin Padgett 9 Yard Run (Jaydan Miller PAT Kick) 7:11 1st
- Linton- Trey Goodman 6 yard Run (Jaydan Miller PAT Kick) 2:10 1st
- Linton- Kaulin Padgett 6 Yard Pass Frum Hunter Gennicks (Jaydan Miller PAT Kick) 7:41 2nd
- Linton- Trey Goodman 27 Yard Pass From Hunter Gennicks (Jaydan Miller PAT Kick) 0:17 2nd
- Linton- Hunter Johns 37 Yard Pass with 21 From Hunter Gennicks (Miller Kick Fail) 9:55 3rd
- Linton-Ayden Riggleman 20 Yard Pass From Hunter Gennicks (Drew Smith Pass from Gennicks) 11:04 4th
- Linton- Logan Walker 31 Yard Run (Jaydan Miller PAT Kick) 3:39 4th
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