Linden — There was no taking the Brandon Blackhawks lightly in front of a homecoming crowd at Linden High School Friday night.
The Eagles had a dominating defensive effort, complimented by its explosive offense, resulting in a 40-0 victory against the winless Blackhawks, earning the Eagles their sixth win and a spot in the MHSAA state playoffs.
Brandon (0-7) collected just 32 yards and two first downs against Linden’s defense all night long. Meanwhile, the Linden offense collected 389 yards total offense and scored four TDs just four seconds into the second quarter.
The Eagles (6-1) were pleased with their defensive effort.
“We’ve been able to execute and fill in the gaps,” senior Mason Belbot said. “Our linemen have been doing great this year. There’s not a lot to improve on. I mean, there’s always something to improve on, but we are playing well.
“We have some good returning kids from last year. We have Ben Armstrong and Nick Carlson. Our defensive line is great. But everyone is a little surprised how well we are doing.”
Brandon never collected a first down in the first half, allowing the Eagles’ offense to do their work. And they did it, scoring three TDs in each of the first two quarters. Quarterback Shaye Brown had three TD passes in the first quarter. The first one came on his first pass of the game – a wide receiver screen to Patrick Ryan for a 70-yard TD. Later in the quarter, Brown completed another screen to Ryan for a TD, this one 40 yards. In between the two scores, Connor O’Connell had a 12-yard TD catch.
“It feels great,” Ryan said about the two TD catches. “My cousin made a great block on the corner and there was nobody from there on the first one. On the second one I had to make a move and I had great blocks from my linemen. I ran down the field from there.”
In the second quarter, Linden scored on run plays. The first one was a one-yard plunge by Brown on the first play of the second half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Linden’s Aaron Kersten recovered a fumble and Linden scored three plays later on a five-yard run by Mitch Juhl. Juhl added a seven-yard TD run with 2:20 left in the half, completing the game’s scoring.
Brown completed 9-of-14 passes for 240 yards and three scores.
“We are a high-powered passing team and Shaye Brown does a great job getting the ball to all of his receivers,” Ryan said. “He’s making the right moves. And our line is giving him time to make plays.”
Defensively, Armstrong and Joe Williams had 11 tackles each to lead Linden.
The Eagles are one game away from a possible championship game with Swartz Creek during the ninth week of the season. However, a road game against Lapeer East is next.
“We can’t let this win get in our head like we let it happen against Lapeer West,” Belbot said.