Officials, Price stop Hornets

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 4, 2004

JEFFERSON – It’s hard to tell who played the biggest role in Linden’s 28-14 win over John Essex High School on Friday night.

Was it Eddie Price, who rushed for 127 yards and scored three touchdowns for the Patriots?

Or could it have been the officiating crew, of which all four members left the field after regulation with ice packs on their arms. By the end of the night, their yellow flags had turned the color of the dirt on the Hornets’ field.

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Either way, Linden High School trumped the revenge factor John Essex toted into Friday’s game and improved to 4-1 on the season. Last year, the Hornets were a lock for the playoffs, but many speculate Linden High turned John Essex in for using two ineligible players.

While some thought the animosity would spill over to the field, it turned out the officiating crew took all of the heat themselves. JEH was penalized 17 times for 140 yards, while Linden was flagged 14 times.

No series of penalties was more costly to the Hornets than the steam of yellow confetti that began flying with less than 6:00 left in the final quarter.

After trailing 28-8, John Essex scored on a 19-yard pass to Frankie Glass, pulling to within two touchdowns of the Patriots. Then, with Linden backed up in its own territory, John Essex was flagged for illegal participation. An official said the Hornets had 12 men on the field. Unfortunately for the officials, John Essex only had 11 men that could even play at the time – with one player still trying to find head gear that worked.

Hornet Head Coach Al Shipman called timeout and stomped onto the field to loudly discuss the call. As he walked back, an office threw a flag right at the head coach. That didn’t help calm matters any more. Another flag soon came flying.

In all, John Essex was penalized 30 yards on one possession, giving Linden new life and a virtual win.

Shipman’s antics may have been warranted, considering a play that came earlier in the fourth quarter.

With 8:12 left in the game, Hornets running back Darnell Edwards watched a pass sail over his head. Long after the uncatchable pass flew into the John Essex sideline, Edwards was drilled by a Patriot cornerback.

Breaking tradition, for some reason, officials didn’t throw a flag when one was never more deserved. Shipman, obviously, lost his cool then, as well.

“Where’s the flag,” he screamed.

This time, the official obliged and threw not one, but two flags in the air. Chalk up another 30 yards.

While the men in stripes may have been the best defense against the Hornets on Friday, nothing could have taken away from the Bo Jackson-like performance of Price.

The most memorable of his three touchdown runs came with 8:57 left in the game. With the ball at the John Essex 27 yard line, Price took a handoff to the left side of the line, slipped through a hole, and literally crushed a Hornet defender five yards later, sending the defender off the ground and backwards. Along the way, Price also ran over three other defenders.

After Linden scored first on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Richardson to Jeremy Little, the one John Essex highlight of the evening came with 16 seconds left in the first quarter.

Edwards took a hand off at the 50-yard line and was never touched, sprinting for the Hornets’ first score of the game.