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Linton Miners Win Class A State Title
Updated November 27, 2016 9:20 AM
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linton win.jpg
By Shad Cox
linton win2.jpg
By Shad Cox

(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Miners beat the Pioneer Panthers with a final score of 34-20 to take the Class A State title Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

No sport at Linton had won a state title since the track team in 1910.

Linton football coach Brian Oliver told his team before the game, "There's going to be a lot of times in life that you don't get a chance to redeem yourself. You've got an opportunity today." And the Miners' seized that chance.

The Miners lost in the state championship last season to powerhouse Lafayette Central Catholic. This year, the Miners met Pioneer for the title.

Meurer, in his final game, scored five total touchdown, four rushing and one through the air.

The Miners led at the half before surrendering the lead in the third quarter. A resilient Linton team fought back, trailing in the fourth quarter for only the second time this season. In the end, the Pioneer offense was unable to move down the field quick enough to score in the game's closing minutes.

After appearing in the class A championship for the past two seasons, the Miners will move up to AA next season due to the IHSAA's success factor rules.

Linton had a two-touchdown lead with less than a minute left. Pioneer quarterback Jack Kiser responded with 23 yards on a fourth-and-22. Pioneer's drive finally died with Keith Nies tackled at the Linton 1, the referees delaying the Miners' celebration of a 34-20 win only a few more seconds to announce an illegal procedure penalty, which was waved off.

Coach Oliver's kids ran into his arms, his son clinging to his right side, his daughter to his left. Linebacker Keaton Cox squatted to touch the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. Senior Ian Fonceca flopped onto the green carpet, facemask pressed against the 20 yard line.

The performance was nothing out of the ordinary for Linton (15-0) this season. Senior quarterback Tyler Meurer was dynamic, rushing for 158 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries. Linton's defense didn't completely stop but limited Pioneer sophomore Jack Kiser, who finished with 102 yards on 31 rushes and was sacked six times.

It was 6-all with 10:11 left in the second stanza when Linton blocked Pioneer's first extra point try. That changed the course of the game, as the Panthers went for two the rest of the way. After a three-yard touchdown rush by Kiser with 6:02 left in the third quarter, the quarterback threw incomplete on a try and Pioneer continued to trail, 13-12.

Pioneer's opening drive of the third quarter was a hearty effort. The Panthers covered 79 yards on 14 plays and took 5:58 off the clock. But then Meurer matched with his big-play ability. He ran to his left, and the Pioneer defense over-pursued. Meurer cut back to his right and zoomed up the middle of the field for a 44-yard touchdown to put Linton back up by seven. The drive took 44 seconds.

Kiser didn't succumb to Meurer's greatness, though. He capped a 66-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter to give Pioneer (14-1) its only lead of the day, 20-19.

Linton regained control on the very next drive, but it took two fourth-down conversions to sustain a 59-yard effort. Meurer picked up six yards on fourth-and-1 at midfield. Then on fourth-and-5 at the Pioneer 39, Meurer rolled to his left and hit Kendall Williams, wide open on an out route, for a 27-yard gain. That led to Meurer's five-yard rush with 6:41 remaining.

The junior Cox, who also rushed for 74 yards on the day, helped seal the game on defense, hitting Nies as he tried to accept a pitch from Kiser. Cox forced and recovered the fumble. Linton, up a score, got the ball back at the Pioneer 31, draining nearly five minutes from the clock before Meurer scored from seven yards out and gave Linton a 34-20 cushion with 1:59 remaining.

LINTON 34, PIONEER 20

Pioneer (14-1) 0 6 6 8--20

Linton (15-0) 6 7 6 15--34

FIRST QUARTER

L: Tyler Meurer 2 run (kick missed), 5:49. L, 6-0.

SECOND QUARTER

P: Nate Johnson 8 pass from Jack Kiser (kick blocked), 10:11. T, 6-6.

L: Bill Smith 53 pass from Meurer (Luke Wilson kick), 1:47. L, 13-6.

THIRD QUARTER

P: Kiser 3 run (pass incomplete), 6:02. L, 13-12.

L: Meurer 44 run (kick blocked), 5:13. L, 19-12.

FOURTH QUARTER

P: Kiser 1 run (Kiser run), 11:45. P, 20-19.

L: Meurer 5 run (Meurer run), 6:41. L, 27-20.

L: Meurer 7 run (Wilson kick), 1:59. L, 34-20.

TEAM STATISTICS

Pio Lin

First downs 17 17

Rushes-yards 45-144 49-274

Passing yards 153 95

Total yards 297 369

Passes 8-18-0 3-8-1

Punts 4-27.8 2-28.5

Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1

Penalty yards 2-7 4-43

RUSHING

Pioneer: Jack Kiser 31-102, Keith Nies 13-40, Austin Mersch 1-2.

Linton: Tyler Meurer 22-158, Keaton Cox 9-74, Garrett Mason 9-24, Kendall Williams 8-19, Team 1-(-1).

PASSING

Pioneer: Jack Kiser 8-17-0-153.

Linton: Tyler Meurer 3-8-1-95.

RECEIVING

Pioneer: Nate Johnson 4-52, Nick Barkas 1-76, Keith Nies 1-10, Jacob Morris 1-10, Miles Von Tobel 1-5.

Linton: Bill Smith 1-53, Kendall Williams 1-27, Keaton Cox 1-15.



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