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Patriots poach Eagles for road win

Linden (9-0, 8-0) ran into very little resistance Thursday night on its way to a 51-0 road win over region foe Autaugaville. The Patriots biggest hindrance in the first half was its penchant to draw yellow flags.

“I just feel like we came out and we established ourselves and we did what we had to do,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said.

On the first play from scrimmage, Linden set the tone when it put the ball in the hands of junior running back Kendarius Fritts, who promptly darted 35 yards. The Pats mixed it up on the next play with a 30-yard pass from Anthony Robinson to Larente Taylor. Fritts then capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run. The drive took three plays, covered 80 yards and lasted 58 seconds. Gerald Bruno added the point after for a 7-0 lead.

The Eagles’ first offensive play of the game saw similar results as the AHS signal-caller bobbled the snap. Linden pounced on the loose ball, putting the Pats 15 yards away from doubling its lead. An 11-yard pass to Gerald Bruno and a four-yard touchdown run by Fritts stretched the advantage. Bruno then added the point-after for a 14-0 lead only 1:29 into the game.

“I think he’s bought into what we’re trying to do here,” Williams said of Fritts, who ran to and through contact each time he touched the ball. “We talked last week about finishing runs no matter what the situation. Not only Kendarius Fritts, but all of our backs this week were in a situation where we tried to finish our runs.”

The Patriots’ biggest miscue of the first quarter came after they forced a three-and-out on the next possession. Robinson fielded a punt at his own 45 and bolted to the AHS 10. The play was negated on a roughing the snapper call. Autaugaville parlayed the penalty into modest success, picking up a first down before getting its best play of the night with a punt that was downed at the Linden 1.

The Patriots responded on the only play of the drive when Fritts took the hand off in his own end zone and blasted through the heart of the Eagle defense for a 99-yard touchdown run. Justin Tensley converted the two-point try for the 22-0 advantage.

Terris Lewis recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, putting Linden 35 yards away from stretching its lead again. Two plays later, Fritts found the end zone from 20 yards out. Bruno connected on the PAT for a 29-0 lead.

After forcing a punt, Linden used three plays to go 50 yards and score again. This time, Robinson went to push his way into the end zone from a yard out when an AHS defender ripped the ball from his clutches. The ball flew into the end zone and found its way into the waiting arms of offensive lineman Jontrey King. Robinson then found Najee Bright in the end zone for the conversion. After one quarter of play, the Patriots led 37-0.

In the lopsided opening period, the Patriots ran 12 offensive plays. Only one of those – an incomplete pass on the final play of the quarter – failed to account for either a Linden score or first down.

In the second quarter, Linden added two more scores. The Pats went 75 yards on six plays, ultimately scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Taylor. On its final possession of the half, Linden went 33 yards on four plays, capping the drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Robinson.

“I was real proud of our quarterback,” Williams said. “He threw the ball real well. He managed what we want him to do within our offense.”

The teams elected to implement six-minute quarters in the second half, playing the game out uneventfully when the Linden reserves put together an 11-play drive to milk the clock and ice the win.

Fritts’ big night ended in the first half. During the first two quarters of the game, he carried the ball seven times for 229 yards and four touchdowns. Robinson misfired only once, capping his evening at 7-for-8 for 151 yards and a touchdown. Bruno converted all five of his extra-point attempts.The win makes Williams 32-4 as a head coach. Linden will attempt to complete a perfect regular season next Thursday when it hosts 3A Aliceville.

“We want to complete our season with back-to-back undefeated seasons,” Williams said. “We have an opportunity to do that.”