Linden scraps past Ariton

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 10, 2007

LINDEN &8212; Ariton High School traveled to Linden High School as the No. 3 seed facing a No. 2 seed in hostile territory. They should have been the underdog, but they didn&8217;t get the memo.

Ariton brought as many or more fans than the Patriots to fill the visitor said of the stadium and the No. 3 seed almost toppled the No. 2 seed, in a game that wasn&8217;t decided until only 39.2 seconds remained on the clock.

As they have more oft than not, the Patriots drew first blood off a 54-yard drive capped off by a 10-yard scrabble around the end and down the sideline for a touchdown by Darrius Fountain with 2:21 to go in the first quarter. But unlike many of Linden&8217;s opponents this year Ariton responded with their next possession.

Following the first score the Cats got the ball at their own 9-yard line and began a steady march downfield &8212; marked by two to three plays between first downs and two consecutive holding calls against Linden that took the wind out of already battered sails.

The biggest boost, however, came when the Cats, facing a fourth-and-eight, pulled of the previous play that had failed the play before &8212; a halfback pass from sophomore Craig Sanders to the same receiver as before, James Edmonds. The team ended the march with a 1-yard run by their leading rusher, Ty Tyler.

But the lead was short lived. After a kick-off return, on the first play of the drive, leading rusher Maurice Tate, who had 171 yards on 12 carries, ran for 72 yards and a touchdown to put the Patriots back on top, where they would stay going into halftime.

But not right away.

Ariton came out of the gate with momentum and a 79-yard drive, again finished off by a 1-yard run from Tyler, who proceeded to run the ball in on the two point conversion to take the lead.

Linden again countered with their next drive. The team made three first downs and were looking for another from their own 44 on first down when Jermaine Black hooked up with Gary Williams on a screen pass. Williams tiptoed down the sidelines all the way to a touchdown with Purple Cats harassing his heels &8212; finishing the scoring 18-14.

Not that the Cats quit until the last seconds of the game. They brought the ball into Linden territory on three more drives in the final quarter, getting as close as the 17 and hitting several incomplete strikes aimed at the end zone, but the Patriot defense held on for the win.