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Linden remains undefeated with big win

LINDEN — The Linden Patriots had 16 rushes for 177 yards and eight touchdowns — in the first half — en route to their 60-8 Homecoming win over visiting John Essex.

Maurice Tate had a game-high 107 rushing yards on nine carries with five touchdowns, all in the first half. Julian Little added two TDs on 47 yards rushing on six carries, while Shantrell Braxton and Ajalon Bruno each had a touchdown.

The win clinched the 1A Region 3 title for the Patriots (8-0 overall, 7-0 in Class 1A Region 3).

John Essex (1-7, 0-7 1A-3) was flagged 16 times for 98 yards and fumbled the ball seven times, losing four of those.

Linden had 248 yards on the ground on 38 carries, while the Hornets had 43 rushing yards on 22 carries. LHS quarterback Bruno was 3-for-3 through the air for 80 yards, while JEHS’s five quarterbacks combined for a 1-for-4 night for seven yards.

Linden scored 26 points in the first quarter and had a 47-0 lead at halftime. The Patriots pushed its advantage to 54-0 in the third quarter before the Hornet defense forced a fumble, when JEHS senior Willie Daniels scooped it up and ran 57 yards for the only touchdown for John Essex with six minutes left in the game.

“There’s a lot going on for Homecoming week,” said LHS coach Andro Williams. “I sort of sat back and watched how our older, more experienced players handled themselves, and I think we came out ready to play. I’m real pleased with them. By no means are they satisfied with where we are, and I appreciate their effort.

“The biggest thing for us is we didn’t have any serious injuries. We got some nicks and bruises, so we’ve just got to try to get well and get ready for a talented football team coming in here next week. We’re just taking each game, one game at a time.”

“We drove the ball on the first series all the way down to the 18-yard line,” said JEHS coach Fentress Means. “I tell you, you’re playing a sixth-grader at guard, a seventh-grader at the other guard, a ninth-grader at tackle — you can’t ask much more from these kids. I’m proud of these kids. These kids are giving it all they got; they play as hard as they can play.”

Linden hosts regional rival Autaugaville on Thursday in its final regular-season home game of the season, while John Essex hosts Region 3 foe Akron.