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Devils destruct: Maplesville leaves Linden with tough loss

LINDEN – At the end of Friday’s clash of titans, Linden was the team left standing.

The host and Class 1A No. 3 Patriots (5-0) upended region foe, perennial 1A powerhouse and No. 2 Maplesville (4-1) Friday night, 23-14, clearing what most considered

A night that ended with a win for Linden got off to a shaky start. After exchanging punts to open the game, the Patriots muffed a punt on their own 4-yard line, setting up a 4-yard run one-play later by Chris Bailey only three minutes into the contest.

With Maplesville driving yet again late in the first, Justin Tensley scooped up a Red Devil fumble and rumbled 35 yards and set up camp at the Maplesville 14.

The drive stalled when Anthony Johnson took an interception 40 yards in the other direction, giving the Red Devils a 14-point lead.

The Maplesville defense clogged the running lanes all night, neutralizing Patriot star tailback Kendarius Fritts. With the ground game struggling, quarterback Anthony Robinson hit Gerald Bruno in stride for a 65-yard touchdown strike to cut the lead in half.

On Linden’s next drive, Robinson connected again, this time with Larente Taylor, on a 55-yard bomb, setting up a 20-yard touchdown run two plays later by Fritts and tying the game at 14 going into the half.

The Maplesville defense held Fritts to 64 yards in the first half, but Robinson erupted for 176 yards through the air.

The defensive struggle continued through the third quarter with both teams exchanging turnovers. An interception by Taylor halted what had been a promising Maplesville drive following a Red Devil fumble recovery.

Linden was the first to put points on the board in the fourth, scoring on a 55-yard interception return by Keiunta Goodwill, giving the Patriots the 20-14 lead after the extra point kick failed.

On Maplesville’s ensuing drive, quarterback Matthew Hamner took a hard hit and was escorted off the field. The Red Devils wanted a penalty, and when no flag was thrown, the wheels started to come off for the Red Devils.

Maplesville drew two personal fouls back-to-back, and after their first play since Hamner was removed from the game resulted in a tackle for a loss, they were hit with another.

Hugging their goal line and forced to punt from 4th-and across the highway, Linden marched the punt slowly down the field before Robinson nailed a 30-yard field goal, giving the Patriots the 23-14 win.

The Patriots defense held the Red Devil passing attack to only 7 yards. Maplesville managed 106 yards on the ground with Hunter McCay’s 43 yards on eight carries leading the way.