Linden creams Cottage Hill

Published 11:13 pm Friday, August 29, 2008

LINDEN – It didn’t take long for Linden High School to take a see-saw battle and turn it into a decisive victory Friday night as the Patriots defeated the Cottage Hill Christian Academy Warriors 38-20.

The Patriots (1-0) used a combination of speed – supplied by senior Shantrelle Braxton – and power – supplied by senior Maurice Tate to reel off three second-quarter scores, and quarterback Ajalon Bruno capped the first-half scoring with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Joe Johnson, Jr. to take a 26-14 lead at the half.

“I think we played a pretty dang good football team tonight,” Linden coach Andro Williams said. “I felt like going in, we were going into a wasp’s nest. I felt like were not as prepared as I would like us to be.”

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Cottage Hill quarterback John Lawson put the Warriors on top with a 60-yard touchdown strike with 7:53 left in the first quarter, but the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds to give Linden the ball at the 35-yard line.

That’s when Tate broke through the middle of the line for a 40-yard scamper, but Thomas Northcutt ran him down – and in a move reminiscent of Alabama defensive back George Teague’s thievery In the 1992 Sugar Bowl against Miami – stripped the ball and took it 21 yards in the other direction to give the momentum back to the Warriors.

But Linden would not be denied. Braxton made up for Tate’s error on the next possession, breaking a 95-yard run from the Patriots’ own six-yard line. Two plays later, Tate dove over the goal line and the Patriots tied the game, 7-7.

“All of those guys did a great job,” Williams said. “Our quarterback played well, our skill players did what they were supposed to do.”

After Cottage Hill hit the scoreboard again, the Patriots reeled off four touchdowns in a row to build a comfortable halftime lead, 26-14.

Linden got the ball to start the second half, and Tate opened the scoring with a 61-yard run, trampling anything that got in his way en route to the end zone on the second play of the third quarter to build a 32-14 lead. From there, the Patriots cruised, and Tate added a 51-yard rushing touchdown on the ensuing Patriot possession.

The Patriots tallied 475 yards of total offense, with Tate rushing for 179 yards on 11 carries with three scores. Braxton added 181 yards on eight carries with one touchdown.

Bruno completed 6-of-10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown and one interception.

The heat and humidity affected players and coaches. Cottage Hill assistant coach Bobby Curtis had a stroke during the game and was taken to Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis where he was listed in stable condition.