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Miners fall short of first goal, what's next?Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010, at 11:14 PM
As former NFL player and coach and current ESPN commentator Herm Edwards always said, "You play to win the game."
You can play, but don't always win the game.
Having an undefeated regular season, winning the conference and winning the sectional are the first three goals that the Linton-Stockton Miner football team has every year.
They did not accomplish the first two in 2009, but they achieved the goal that counted most (in my opinion) when the Miners won three games in the post season to claim their third consecutive Class A Sectional 40 championship.
After the 13-6 loss to Sullivan in week two last year, so much for the undefeated regular season. The Miners also fell to North Knox and North Daviess, losing the Southwest Seven Conference for the first time.
But revenge was sweet for the Linton-Stockton faithful as the Miners defeated both on their way to sectional championship No. 8. A 21-7 setback to Fountain Central in a regular match-up ended the Miners' season at 9-4.
I am sure that Linton-Stockton Nation is down after a 33-29 loss to West Vigo Friday night.
It wasn't so much the loss, but how the Miners went about it. They led 22-0 in the first half, but it wasn't like the "Blue and Red" were dominating offensively.
Because of an errant punt snap, a blocked punt and a Miner turnover and subsequent three-and-out in the red zone, Linton-Stockton had to drive a total of 77 yards to come away with three touchdowns.
They needed just 14 plays total and time of possession of 13 seconds, 59 seconds and a whopping three minutes and three seconds to build up what appeared to be a commanding lead.
Ty Scott, who continues to score multiple touchdowns almost at will, found the end zone on a 1-yard run through the right side of the line for a 7-0 lead after the first of three PATs by Dyllanne Deischer. Scott now has nine scores in four games to lead all area players.
When Scott runs right, it always seems to go for positive yardage, if not scores. I am not a coach, but I think they could utilize it even more.
After a blocked punt by Dess Fougerousse set the Miners up at the West Vigo 24, quarterback Austin Karazsia hit Fougerousse with a beautiful fade pass just inside the pylon for six points. Fougerousse, who officially was given a 25-yard punt return after his block, had beaten West Vigo's Jacob Cobble on the fourth-and-four play. A two-point conversion had put the Miners ahead 15-0 with 10 minutes and 12 seconds left in the first half.
With the Miners threatening to score again, West Vigo's Ethan Boatman picked off a pass at the Viking 8.
The Miner defense, who had limited West Vigo to 23 yards on their first seven possessions, came up with another stop and forced a Viking punt.
A short return by Koye Kaiser gave Linton-Stockton the ball at the WV 42. Eight plays later, Kent Helton went in from the 2 and a Deischer point after boot made in Miners 22, Vikings 0 with 3:16 to play in the second quarter.
The Miners then snuffed out another drive by the Vikes, but a 47-yard punt by Ryan Roach pinned the home team at their own 3 with 2:10 remaining until half time.
After a 39-yard run by Kent Helton, an 11-yard toss from Karazsia to Scott and a 8-yard scamper by Scott, the Miners had a first down at the Viking 48.
A penalty backed them up to midfield before Viking sophomore Chris Neidlinger picked off a Karazsia pass. His 26-yard return set them up at the Miner 42.
Three plays later, Viking quarterback Lance Garrett found Chase Silcox open in the corner of the end zone. The 39-yard TD pass -- more yardage than WV had achieved in the first 23 minutes -- came with 10 seconds remaining in the half and cut the lead to 22-6.
Linton-Stockton was still ahead by two TDs and two, two-point conversions and appeared to be in good shape.
But Dylan Aff took Scott's second-half kickoff and raced 86 yards for the score, cutting the comfortable Miner cushion to 22-13.
Thirteen points in 24 seconds is not a record, but it was the turning point of the game nonetheless.
The theme of the kicking game would continue as the fourth of six touchdowns would be scored as a direct result of special teams.
A punt by Roach apparently touched the No. 23 uniform of Kaiser inside the 20 and rolled to the Miner 2. West Vigo's Andy Velazquez's alertly jumped on the ball as Kaiser never went after the pigskin and the Vikings momentum continued.
Garrett scored on the next play and the 20-0 Viking outburst had cut the Miner advantage to 22-20 with 7:11 to play in the third quarter.
Sacks by Blake Scharbrough and Anthony Morin snuffed out the Vikings' attempt to take the lead.
Then the Miners would mount their only scoring drive in the final 27 minutes. Karazsia's 76-yard pass to Cole Bradbury, again victimizing Cobble, set up another Linton-Stockton score, giving them possession at the Viking 3.
Scott scored from the 1 and Deischer's kick, her 16th PAT of the season, made it 29-20 with five seconds to play in an slap-happy third quarter.
As had been the theme throughout the game, the Miners got inside West Vigo territory three more times, but each time they came up empty. A pass to Karazsia to Fougerousse fell incomplete on fourth-and-goal from the Viking 3-yard line with 8:07 to play.
"We just had too many dropped passed and missed too many opportunities," Linton-Stockton coach Steve Weber said. "We just had too many breakdowns in too many areas."
The Vikings were pinned inside the shadow of their own goal post, but it took them just four plays to cap a 97-yard drive. Garrett broke a couple of tackles on his way to a 77-yard touchdown run. The Miner lead was still 29-26 after a botched snap on the point-after attempt with 6:04 remaining.
The Miners got as far as the WV 49, but had to punt it back to the Vikes.
They started what proved to be the winning drive from their own 24-yard line. WV drove to the Miner 31 but faced a fourth-and eight.
Garrett then scrambled around before throwing a bullet down the middle to Aff, who never broke stride and went untouched for the winning touchdown with 34 seconds remaining. Caleb Stuppy, who along with Helton had an interception earlier in the game, and Scott were defending on the play.
"I was thinking here's Ritter again," Weber said referencing a 30-26 loss to Indianapolis Ritter in the semistate championship game in 2008 when the Raiders trailed the whole game, but scored the winning touchdown in the final seconds. "We could not stop them.
"We tried to make some adjustments, but they just made all the big plays when they had too."
The Miners had one last gasp, but four plays and two penalties produced 26 yards before the clock expired with the ball on the Viking 31.
Linton-Stockton, who had not given up any points in the second half through three games, were outscored 27-7 in the final two quarters Friday.
One loss to a Class 3A team does not a season make for the youthful Miners.
Like any setbacks we face in life, we have to learn from them and move forward.
The youthful Class A No. 5 Miners have some interesting challenges down the road. I, along with many Linton-Stockton faithful, will be interested to see how they meet and overcome future obstacles and how the rest of the season progresses. A conference championship and post-season success are still in sight, if the price -- of sacrifice, dedication and desire by all -- is right.
B.J. Hargis is sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12.
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