Pats’ backfield committee grounds Falcons

Published 11:21 am Friday, August 26, 2011

TUSCALOOSA — Linden played the role of the home team in a road game Thursday night, opening the regular season with a 52-0 win over Central-Tuscaloosa.

The Patriots, who collected the gate proceeds as the home team, relocated the game to Central High School amid complications with the Linden Athletic Association and the usage of Linden Athletic Field.

The Patriots showed little evidence of being distracted, scoring 17 points in the second quarter before putting the contest away with a quartet of touchdowns in the third quarter.

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Anthony Robinson opened the scoring with less than a minute to go in the first half when he recovered a teammate’s fumble on fourth down and darted 36 yards for a touchdown. Ryan Preston added the extra point kick to put the Patriots up 7-0.

The Patriots’ put some distance between themselves and the Falcons in the second quarter when junior Marquise Shelton sprinted 60 yards for a touchdown run. Linden up the lead to 15-0 when Robinson hit Jorian Ravizee for the two-point conversion pass.

With 2:50 to play in the second quarter, Preston connected on a 27-yard field goal, the first three-point play of Andro Williams’ tenure in Linden. The kick left the Patriots with an 18-0 lead.

Julian Little added to the advantage with 27 seconds remaining in the first half when he scored from five yards out, sending Linden to the locker room with a 24-0 lead.

Linden wasted little time adding to the lead when Little scored on a four-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the second half. Preston’s extra point kick pushed the score to 31-0.

Just over three minutes later, Robinson scored on a six-yard touchdown run to give Linden a 37-0 lead before Little rubbed salt in the wound 56 seconds later with a 56-yard interception return for a score.

With 3:22 to go in the third quarter, Little added his fourth score of the night on a 60-yard touchdown run. Robinson capped the scoring by finding Jalen Lewis for the two-point conversion pass.

The game was the first time Linden showed off its new stable of backs following back-to-back seasons in which Kendarius Fritts won Class 1A Back of the Year honors after twice receiving the lion’s share of carries. By contrast, Thursday saw Little, Shelton and Jamal Lewis combine for 40 carries.

“I think they handled the role very well,” Williams said of the backfield committee his team employed against Central. “Our backs blocked well for each other for the most part.”

LIttle finished the night with 178 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. Shelton added 123 yards and a score on 15 carries. Jamal Lewis finished with 76 yards on nine carries. Adding to the Patriots’ rushing total was Robinson, who ran three times for 42 yards. Linden finished the night with 431 rushing yards.

Robinson also did moderate damage in the air, throwing for 95 yards. Tight end Terris Lewis found himself on the receiving end of 56 yards worth of Robinson throws.

The Patriots picked off three passes in the game with Eric Monroe and Jamal Lewis each recording a pick in addition to Little’s INT.

“We came out and played with some intensity,” Williams said. “We had some busted assignments, but it wasn’t a question of effort. This team will build itself into a better football team.”

Linden will play again next week against region foe Fruitdale.