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Linton Miners Headed To State Championship Game
Updated November 21, 2015 8:15 AM | Filed under: Sports
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(LINTON) - Eight times the Linton-Stockton Miner football team had made it to the semistate round. Eight times they came up short.

The Greene County Daily World reports, on their ninth try they finally broke through. The Miners seized control of the game in the fourth quarter and pulled away for a 56-27 win over the defending Class A state champion North Vermillion Falcons.

"This is long overdue for this town, for this community and for all the alumni. It's a pretty neat moment right now for us," Linton-Stockton coach Brian Oliver said. "This is an exciting time. I'm so proud of these kids and the effort they put forth tonight. All season these kids have worked hard. I couldn't be more proud of these young men the way they came out and performed tonight."

Now Linton-Stockton will face the Knights of Lafayette Central Catholic in the IHSAA State Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium at Noon, Friday November 27.

Few expected a high-scoring shootout like this one since the regular season matchup between these two was a grind-it-out, 21-7 game.

Neither team moved the ball on their first possession and both were forced to punt. Vaughn DePugh muffed the Miners' punt and Kendall Williams pounced on the loose ball at the 22. On the first play Tyler Meurer threw a strike to Jacob Clothier to put the Miners on the board first.

North Vermillion answered right back and DePugh would gain a measure of redemption. The Falcons needed just 5 plays and 2:01 to cover 65 yards culminating in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Cody Wright to DePugh.

The Miners would come back with three unanswered scores.

Or rather, Meurer would.

The junior signal caller found the end zone on runs of 37, 23 and 1 yard in a 7-minute span.

The first came after Linton-Stockton drove inside the North Vermillion 5-yard line. Garrett Mason fumbled and the Falcons recovered at their own 3. They were forced to punt from deep in their own territory and the Miners took over at the NV 39.

On third-and-8 from the 37, Meurer sprinted to the house with 58 seconds left in the opening stanza.

After another exchange of punts, runs of 10 and 9 yards by Mason and Mitch Eberhardt respectively set the Miners up with a first down at the 23. From there Meurer bulled his way in, overpowering several Falcon tacklers.

North Vermillion was again forced to punt - but this time they attempted a fake. Jacob Earl was knocked out-of-bounds for a 4-yard loss, giving Linton-Stockton a short field at the 34.

Meurer found Clothier wide open down the right sideline for a 30-yard gain inside the 5.

On third-and-goal from the 1, Meurer took it in on a quick-count keeper to put the hosts ahead 28-7 with 5:54 remaining until intermission.

At that point, Linton-Stockton looked dominant. The Miner defense had held Earl and Wright to 11 rushing yards apiece. And of North Vermillion's 42 passing yards, 36 came on the scoring toss to DePugh.

But the momentum quickly shifted.

Earl got open over the middle, made a one-handed grab and sped 75 yards down the sideline to the Miner 2. After a false start Wright scored on a 7-yard keeper.

Linton-Stockton turned the ball over on downs when Mason was stuffed on fourth-and-1. After Wright's 16-yard run set up a first down at the 23, Earl covered the distance in two plays. He burst up the middle for the last 13 yards to cut the deficit to 28-20 headed into halftime.

"It's a resilient group of kids. They have outstanding character and that's what you get from a group of great young men," North Vermillion coach Brian Crabtree said.

Pierce Jackson blasted through a hole for a 39-yard TD jaunt midway through the third stanza.

But after the ensuing kickoff, Wright got outside for a 61-yard sprint to paydirt on the first play from scrimmage to keep the Falcons within striking distance.

Would this be yet another semistate chance that slipped through Linton-Stockton's grasp?

The Miners ensured it wouldn't, taking control of the game in the fourth quarter.

Their next drive started at their own 26.

Mason rambled for 16 and 30 yards to set up a first down at the NV 16 as the third quarter expired.

On fourth-and-4 from the 10, Meurer took it in for his fourth touchdown of the night.

Meurer carried 19 times for 132 yards.

On the very next play Zach Phegley recovered a fumbled snap resulting in yet another short field for the Miners at the 19.

On the third play, Jackson bolted into the end zone from 15 yards out for his second score. Jackson finished with an even 100 rushing yards as the Miners again had three 100-yard rushers. Mason joined the group with 102 yards on 15 totes.

Eberhardt joined the scoring party, running it in from 23 yards out to cap off the scoring with 4:48 to play.

This week the Miners prepare for a trip to the State Finals that has been a long time coming.

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