Linden stops Devils in third round

Published 11:25 pm Friday, November 18, 2011

Upended: Maplesville running back Cameron Morrow is tackled by the Linden defense during Friday’s third-round playoff game. Morrow was his team’s leading rusher, with 69 yards on 10 carries.

Maplesville’s season slipped away like the seconds on the clock.

The Red Devils knew what was coming—Linden running back Julian Little—but couldn’t stop it as Linden ran out 7 of the last 8 minutes of Friday’s third-round playoff game and Little punched the ball in from 2 yards out for a 21-7 win.

The result ends Class 1A second-ranked Maplesville’s season in the quarterfinals and advances No. 1 Linden to face rival Sweet Water for the right to play in the Super 6 state championship event at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

“The scoreboard is not very indicative of how that game was. Our kids played the best they could possibly play,” MHS coach Brent Hubbert said. “We battled. We went toe-to-toe.”

Run for it: Maplesville’s Dustin Stephens runs after catching a pass from Colby Chambers.

Proving Hubbert’s point, the game statistics were close to even. Maplesville rushed for 145 yards and passed for 48, and Linden rushed for 135 and passed for 82.

Maplesville (12-1) drove inside Linden’s 10-yard line on the first possession of the game but turned the ball over on downs.

Linden (12-1) then drove 90 yards and scored on an 18-yard pass from Anthony Robinson to Prentiss McCuiston.

It was the first score allowed by either defense in four combined playoff games.

Ryan Preston added the point after, as he did after each of Linden’s touchdowns.

Nail in the coffin: Julian Little (1) scores Linden’s final touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:12 remaining in Friday’s game. Little rushed for a game-high 140 yards on 30 carries.

The teams swapped three-and-outs, and the visitors got on the scoreboard before halftime as a long run by Cameron Morrow set up a 5-yard scoring run on third-and-goal by Brintain Hill.

Brandon Morrow was good on the extra point try with less than 1 minute remaining until the break.

Linden used their size on the offensive front in the second half, as two of their three possessions ended with a touchdown, and the other resulted in a punt by Robinson that pinned Maplesville back at its own 8-yard line.

On the first possession of the second half, Linden drove 70 yards, converting several third downs and one fourth down. Little scored from 1 yard out.

“Hats off to them,” Hubbert said. “They did what they had to do to win.”

Little finished with 140 yards on 30 rushes. He did most of the damage but was aided by several crucial third-down throws by Robinson.

Cameron Morrow was Maplesville’s leading rusher with 69 yards on 10 carries.