Sports

RECAP: Miner ‘D’ shines in 40-29 win over Sullivan’s Arrows

It was a perfect night weather-wise, as the 2-1 Arrows came to ‘The Roy’ in what would be a shootout in meeting number 108 for the ages. Thus far in 2022, the offense has received much rave, and deservedly so.  This night, the defense made plays to put the Miners up early, and in the end put the game away – but not forgetting a huge goal line stand seconds before halfway that took away a huge momentum swing, as well as another red zone stop that kept the Arrows off the scoreboard. 

It was the second game in-a-row that saw a huge difference in time of possession (30:38 to 17:22), leading to the facts that Linton scored a couple defense touchdowns, and the Miner ‘O’ had big plays of their own. 

The Linton Miners coming onto the field against the Sullivan Arrows – 2022

This was the first Miner game that Linton did not score on the first possession of the game.  In fact, Paul Oliver would kick only his 3rd punt of the whole year to date — yet a good one at 44 yards.  Sullivan came out running, a bit of a surprise really, and they found success early with Lane Deckard taking the 1st two carries up the middle for 12 yards.  His third attempt was met by Aiden Giles for no gain. 

From their own 42, the Arrows went to the air for the  first time, but not with normal starter Rowdy Adams, but back-up Jonathan Willey.  Willey’s pass intended for Evan Royer at the Arrow 47 was played perfectlly by Paul Oliver, who stepped in and returned the interception to the Sullivan 22. 

On 2nd and 9 Hunter Gennicks connected with Braden Walters for a 15 yard gain to the Arrow 6.  Two plays later, Gennicks pushed in from the 1, and at 7:55 Linton broke the ice.  A problem thus far in 2022 for Linton had been PAT kicks, being 0-4 with a case of bad snaps — but Jose Sevilla-Garcia got the boot across for a 7-0 lead. 

Sullivan would get a 1st down, but was shut down when Walters, in his first defensive action of 2022, broke up a pass from Willey to Kaden Arnett near midfield, and Gunner Bowman booted a punt 33-yards to the Miner 18.  It took the big play offense of Linton two plays to explode, and that was included Gennicks coming to his left, through a big whole and out-running the Arrows on their sideline for an 82-yard score.  Sevilla-Garcia’s kick hit the crossbar but up and over for the 14th point at the 4:25 mark of the opening quarter.

Things then went from bad to — well — horrible as on 3rd and 11 Willey’s pass for James Propes was perfectly played for another Oliver pick at the Arrow 35, and he went the distance for another score just 1:02 after the previous score.   This time the PAT was botched with Gennicks scrambled back and forth before connecting with Russell Goodman for an apparent 2 point play, but a late penalty wiped that out.  Gennicks pass for Logan Webb was incomplete a play later, but Linton had jumped on top of the Arrows 20-0 with 3:23 still in the 1st

At this point Rowdy Adams was back at QB, and immediately led the Arrows 656 yards in 6 plays going 3-for-3 passing including a pass to Propes for Sullivan’s first score at 0:20.  He had hit his brother Luke Adams the play before featuring a leaping catch at the Miner 23.  Arrow kicker Giuseppe Leone had been perfect in PAT’s coming in, but Wrigley Franklin crashed in and blocked this PAT leaving the score 20-6. 

Leone was very affective in kickoffs putting the ball inside the Linton 5 with each kick.  Linton’s offense proved they could put together long drives themselves, as they reeled off 9 plays and 73 yards to answer the Arrows score.  It was Oliver again with a catch from Gennicks that he broke free and collected 28 yards on a 3rd and 9 to the Arrow 43.  Gennicks hit Walters  and the 11 and he fought his way in the end zone at 9:03 of the second quarter, and with Sevilla-Garcia’s PAT Linton led 27-6 seemingly in control of the contest.

Sullivan would not go away, though.  Rowdy Adams showed why he was a force at QB not just passing but in scrambling out of the pocket with back to back gains of 18 yards.  A penalty against the Miners, of which their were 10 for 60 yards and a problem all night, put the arrows at the Linton 38.  Linton gave Sullivan 2 first downs on offside penalties on the drive.  An Adams pass to  DJ Gaines for 27 yards put Sullivan to the 16, and Adams pushed it to the 1 on 3 plays. 

From there, on 4th and 1, Adams pushed just enough forward to get the official’s nod, but once more Leone’s PAT was botched by a back snap.  With 4:19 before the half, Linton still led 27-12 but the Arrows had driven 71 yards on 10 plays using 4:44.  And that momentum shift would explode purple and gold as on the ensuing kickoff Hunter Johns was stripped of the ball by the third Adams twin Cody and Seth Pirtle recovered at the Miner 14. With a chance to pull within a TD before the half, and then get possession to start the second half, Arrow fans had reason to celebrate!

Sullivan stuck to the ground and Deckard and Adams on runs that got a first down at the 2.  Deckard tried twice but was stopped by Giles, Bradyn Cox and Gennicks with ball still as the 2.  Adams tried up the guy on 3rd down but the Miner front line of Hank Gennicks, Ty Boyd and Christian Shonk dug in allowing Linebacker Giles, Cox, Oliver and Franklin to crash in, and set up a huge play on 4th and 1 at the 1 with under a minute left in the half.  After a time-out and both fanbases rose to their feet as Adams took the snap and stepped to his right and tried to leap to the endzone.  It appeared he slipped a bit, but also that his jump was halted as Arrow front linemen were stood up by the Miner D, and Adams fell short of the goal line, a key play in this game.  Linton did get a 26 yard run by Johns just a the half sounded, but Linton had stood strong on a big stand to stay up 27-13.

The Arrows would come out determined in the 2nd half on the ground with a 15 yard burst from Deckard and runs from both Adams and Propes.  On 4th and 2 Linton handed the Arrows another first down on an offside call to the Miner 38.  It was the Adams to Adams show as Luke leaped up to make a diving catch at the Linton 8.  Paul Oliver made another huge play as he chased Adams for the Linton sideline then sacked him for an 8 yard loss.  Johns and Giles popped Royer on a reception at the 10, then Webb defended a pass intended for Gaines at the 5. Once more the Arrows faced a 4th and goal, this time from 10.  What appears to have been a low snap ended up in Deckard’s hand and he was met by LB Aiden Giles for a loss of 3, and another failed red zone attempt for the Arrows.  A 12 play 62 yard drive that used more and half the 3rd quarter (6:57).

Linton took to the ground with back to back 15 yard runs from Jesse Voigtschild and Hunter Gennicks, but a holding penalty led to a 3rd and 14 at the miner 39.  Gennicks launched a pass down the middle of the field but into the hands of Royer at the Arrow 33, and he returned in to the Linton 49 and new life for Coach Caton’s crew.  This time it took 1 play as Rowdy found Luke well behind Miner defense at the 27 in stride for a TD strike at 3:43 of the 3rd.  Another offside call put the Arrows close enough to try a 2 point that pulled the score to 27-20 on Adams run.  High drama indeed at the Roy.  Linton got an offside gift from Sullivan on a 3rd and 3 then Johns converted another 3rd and 1 to the Arrow 44.  Gennicks took a shot from Cody Adams for a sack and loss of a yard leading to a 4th and 11 at the S 30 just into the 4th quarter.  Gennicks kept and got close but the ball was pulled away by Camden Singer and again it was Pirtle who landed on it at the Sullivan 24 at 10:42 on the clock.

More runs from Deckard moved the chains to the 37, but a big holding call set the Arrows back to their 25.  A pass to Gaines nearly put Sullivan at mid field but fell off his leaping hands with Webb nearby.  3rd and 1 produced another big play in the game as Luke Adams looked to have a catch at the Sullivan 40 but a whopping hit from Braden Walters separated the ball to the ooh’s and ahh’s of both sidelines.  At 8:58 the Arrows opted for a Bowman punt that took a Linton bounce setting up the Miners at the Sullivan 47.  This time the big play returned as on the 2nd play of the possession Hunter Johns motored through the left side and up the field breaking a couple tackles on his way 48 yards for a huge score at 8:40 in the game.  Sevilla-Garcia was perfect on the PAT putting Linton up 34-20. 

From their own 31, Sullivan wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, and led again by several Adams scrambles under pressure from Ashton White and Paul Oliver as well as Wrigley Franklin.  He completed passed to Propes (14 yards) and one to a wide open Arnett at the Miner 24 that reached Linton’s 17 and another Red Zone appearance.  But it would be heartbreak for Arrow fans as a pass for Gaines at the Miner 10 bounced off his hands upward, as he himself was falling to his knees.  The ball seemingly magically appeared in Walters hands and he was off to the races down the Miner Sideline before many even realized it was happening.  90 yards later he crossed into the fabled south end zone to the outstretched hands of Miner fans young and old.  The PAT was blocked by Luke Adams, but the game was in wraps as Linton led 40-20 with 4:46 left. The Arrows would punt the ball away on their last possession, and Linton kept on the ground with a nice 22 yard Voigtschild  run to the Sullivan 21.  Johns and Eli Scott closed the night as Linton let the clock wind down to zeroes at the Arrow 13.

It was an impressive performance for the #1 ranked 2A Miners.  They withstood an equally impressive Sullivan offense that strained the Miner pass defense, but yet the night really belong to that Miner Defense.  3 Interceptions, 2 of those for touchdowns, and 3 red zone stops, none as more impressive that the goal line stand at the end of the first half.  That defense was on the field 30:38 of the 48 minutes.  With Sullivan often spreading the field with 4 receivers and a QB that could roll out and run or simply take it up the middle on a draw…this makes defending very taxing and very difficult at times.  As much as I talk about open receivers, it is easy to understand how that can happen with that type of offensive set.  Thus, it is equally impressive that with 25 passes thrown that only 14 were completed, and only 5 were more than 20 yard completions.  The Miner offense responded when they absolutely had to.  They had the big running plays by Gennicks and Johns for lightning fast touchdowns, but also 9 play 73 yard, and 11 play 48 yard marches that answered Sullivan scores, and calmed the storm when Sullivan pulled to within 27-20.    Without any doubt the place kicking of Jose Sevilla-Garcia was up-lifting.  He was 4-4 in actual kicks, but had one blocked and with the exception of 1 snap, the other were spot on from Ty Boyd. 

Linton ran just 44 plays to Sullivan’s 62 but still led in total yards at 381 to 346.  First Downs went Sullivan’s way 20-16.  Linton put up 312 rushing on 32 carries, and Gennicks his on 7 of 12 passing for 69 yards with his first pick of the year.  Hunter now has 5 TD passes on the year.  Once more both Gennicks and Johns eclipsed 100+ yards for the 3rd time in 4 games.  Gennicks had 130 on 12 carries and 2 scores giving him 545 yards and 9 TDs in 2022.  Johns has 116 yards on 12 carries as well with  a score putting him at 386 and 8 TDs this year.  Logan Webb had 3 catches for 11 yards, Walters 2 for 27 and a score, 1 each from Oliver (28 yards) and Voigtschild (3 yards).  Webb leads linton with 12-104 and 1 TD with Walters at 11-157 and 2 TDs.  Sullivan started the game grounding out the ball, and finished with 121 on 37 carries, just a 3.27 average per rush. 

Rowdy Adams was most successful on his scrambling and draws up the middle finished with 70 yards on 19 attempts with a score, while Lane Deckard had 44 yards on 15 touches.  51 of those yards from Adams were from scrambles.  James Propes had 3 carries for 7 yards.  Once Adams was behind center the passing attack became a huge threat and he was 13 of 20 for 219 yards, 2 scores and the 1 interception that really wasn’t his fault that led to a Miner TD.  Jonathan Willey was 1 of 5 for 6 yards and to his credit had a dropped pass, as well as a pass thrown away to avoid a certain sack.  But clearly, his 2 early interceptions led directly to one Miner TD, and certainly set the  stage for another in what became an early 14-0 lead.  Luke Adams was a constant threat with 4 catches for 122 yards and a TD. Propes 4-40 and a TD,  Gaines 2-29, Arnett 1-18 and Royer 3 for 16. 

Defensive leader for Linton had seniors Aiden Giles and Bradyn Cox with 10 each, Giles with 1 TFL.  Freshman Russel Goodman added 6 from LB, Wrigley Franklin 6 with 2 QB hurries.  Hunters Gennicks and Johns each with 6,  Hunter with a TFL.  Paul Oliver had a big night with 5 tackles, 2 for loss, a sack and 2 picks one of which went for a TD.  Ty Boyd and Christian Shonk with 4 each, along with Ashton White who also had a TFL. Hank Gennicks added 4 stop with a TFL.  Walters had 1 tackle, but his pass breakup on Adams in the 4th, and this 90 yard Interception return to TD were perhaps the biggest plays of the night.  Sullivan had a big night from Luke Adams (9 tkls) and Sebastian Ortiz (8). Camdon Singer added 7, Isaak Osbourn 6 and Cody Adams eith 5 but also a sack with 1.5 TFL. Seth Pirtle had 4 tackles and also had two fumble recoveries. 

Penalties were an issue on both sides of the field.  Linton with 10 for 60, not necessarily in big yardage but indeed in offsides alone that accounted for 3 1st downs for Sullivan.  Sullivan hurt themselves as well with 8 for 68 yards.  Linton was a solid 6 of 8 on 3rd downs while Sullivan was 6 of 14.  A big stat was 2 of 4 on 1st downs, both failures coming in the red zone. 

Looking back on this game, Linton’s 4th win in a row in this series, it was closer than the score would indicate. The deep passing threat was a danger all night once Adams was at QB.  You can’t ignore those 2 early TDs being the result of the back up QB being on the field.  But the Miner offside was able to produce yards and make plays to get Linton in the endzone.  Should these teams meet again, which is a definite possibility come draw night, I feel it will be quite a matchup providing both teams stay healthy.  What does each team take from this game?  Certainly for Linton it will give study time to learn more about dealing with a spread offense with talented skill players.  For Sullivan I’m sure the feeling that they competed toe to toe and perhaps a few feel they let one get away.   It will set up quite a re-match. Course 4-0 Southmont and 3-1 South Vermillion may have a say it that.

Linton has another big matchup with 3-1 4A Boonville on the road Friday it what is always a tough physical contest with the Pioneers.  They beat North Knox 13-7 in Overtime in Bicknell last week, and also knocked off 3-1 3A Heritage Hills in week 3.  They only lost to unbeaten Southridge 13-0 and opened with a convincing 36-8 drubbing of 2A 2-2 Paoli.  This will not be a time for a let down after big games with Sullivan and Monrovia.   Sullivan heads back home to Sportland Field to face 2-2 Greencastle, then a tough meeting with unbeaten 4A Owen Valley on tap. 

Finally- A huge thanks and huge props to the Linton Miner Fan Base.  The atmosphere was electric from start to finish in the stands, along the end zones and even down the sides.  Sullivan brought their usual ‘loud & proud’ Arrow faithful which made this  cause me memories of big sectional, regional and even semi-state matchups of lore.  You can absolutely believe that the Miner player and coaches could feel that support, and when they needed it, they certainly got that energy.  I know that feeling of hearing the end zone crowd yelling and pushing you to the next level… and I know the feeling of running into that end zone and seeing the fist pumping from the old times, alumnus, youth league kids, friends, family. It is something you don’t forget.  We need that type of support every time! Even the Mini Miners cheered, featured girls from 1st through 4th grades:

The Mini Miners shown above represented the third and fourth grade girls perfroming cheers from their high school mentors

Featured image by Austin Gordon – Linton vs. Sullivan 2021

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