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Linden rolls over Winterboro

LINDEN — Maurice Tate rushed for 166 yards on 17 carries and scored five touchdowns — all in the first half — and Shantrell Braxton added 153 yards on nine rushes and four TDs as No. 3 Linden ran roughshod over the visiting Winterboro Bulldogs 66-0 in the first round of the AHSAA state playoffs.

“This was probably our first complete game in the first half: offense, defense and special teams,” said Linden head coach Andro Williams. “We’ve been talking about trying to get better on special teams over the last half of the season. We executed, and we didn’t have any penalties like we’ve been having, those small mistake penalties, the mental penalties. That was the biggest part of the game. We put some drives together and just drove down the field a little bit at a time.”

The Patriots (11-0 overall, 1A Region 1 No. 1 seed) had 202 yards of total offense in the first half, compared to minus-16 for Winterboro (5-6, 1A Region 2 No. 4 seed), which finished the game with minus-17 yards of offense. The three first downs that the Bulldogs got in the game were all courtesy of Linden penalties.

Moving on to the second round, Linden will host Billingsley (9-2, 1A Region 1 No. 4 seed) on Friday. Billingsley won at Wadley 18-10 last night. Linden beat Billingsley 27-26 in their regular-season match-up on Sept. 26 in Linden.

Linden’s opening drive against Winterboro set the tone for the rest of the night. Rashad Hollins took the opening kickoff and returned it 14 yards to the Linden 39. Tate then made runs of 17, nine and three yards, moving the Patriots to the WHS 32, then Braxton got some stats with a 13-yard run to the 19.

Tate had rushes of eight and six yards to get the ball to the Bulldog 5, then capped the drive with a five-yard blast into the endzone.

The seven-play, 61-yard drive took just under three minutes to complete.

Linden had the ball 12 times and scored on each of its first 10 drives. The Patriots had five drives of less than a minute, scoring on all of those drives.

Winterboro — improved from last season’s 1-9 record — never got past its own 48-yard line on offense.

“We’re a young team,” said WHS head coach Adam Fossett. “This was the first time for us to make the playoffs in three years. We’ve only got four seniors. It was a tough night for us; nothing went our way tonight.

Linden (11-0) will host Billingsley (9-2) in the second round of the playoffs on Friday.