Linden — It hasn’t been the greatest start to the season for the Linden varsity football team.
In fact, its 0-2 start is the worst since the Eagles lost two competitive contests in their first two games in 2001 as well.
In 2001, the Eagles (1-2) righted the ship during the third week with a victory against the Holly Bronchos (1-2). The same happened this season.
Desperately needing a victory, the Eagles’ offense had their best game of the season and the defense remained strong for the entire 48 minutes, resulting in the Eagles’ 28-0 home victory against the Holly Bronchos.
“It really means a lot,” Linden quarterback Colby Kohmescher said. “We put in a ton of work this week in practice, we’ve had two tough games, two tough losses, and I think coming out and goose-egging them is going to boost our confidence a lot.”
Linden varsity football coach Denny Hopkins was pleased with the victory, but was concerned about something else. The Eagles led 28-0 at halftime, but were unable to score again in the second half.
“I am upset because we didn’t play a second half,” Hopkins said. “That’s what bothers me. We didn’t come out of the locker room ready to play. Our kids thought it was over.”
One thing Hopkins had to be happy with was the defense. Despite the two losses to start the season, the defense has played well enough to collect victories in all three games.
Against Holly, the Eagles’ defense played their best game of the season, holding Holly to just 143 yards total offense on 46 plays.
“We have played 12 quarters of pretty good defense,” Hopkins said. “We are not that big but we do have some quickness. We play some pretty good defense in the secondary. I think that’s our strength.”
Linden’s offense looked like the trademark offenses of the past when the Eagles scored on each of their first four possessions, scoring more points in those possessions (28) than they had the first two games combined (26).
Linden started its first possession on the Holly 16, but took just six plays to score. A 19-yard run by Kohmescher on third down kept the drive alive, and a play later he completed a 43-yard TD pass to a wide open Seeger DeGayner. The snap on the extra-point was botched and Linden led 6-0 with 4:45 left in the opening quarter.
Holly’s offense was forced to punt four plays from scrimmage later, and the Eagles got the ball back at their own 26. A 37-yard reverse to DeGayner put the ball on the Holly 3. Two plays later, Kohmescher scored from one yard out. Kohmescher also scored the two-point conversion on a run play, making it a 14-0 Linden lead at the end of the first quarter.
Holly had a big pass play of 62 yards from Jacob Hild to Sebastien Bemman, putting the ball on the Linden 15, but the Bronchos didn’t score. Two plays later, back-to-back stops by Linden’s Wyatt Gocha on third-and-2 and fourth-and-2 gave Linden the ball back at its own 7.
It looked like Holly’s defense gave the Bronchos the break they needed when it appeared they forced a fumble and scored on the recovery. However, an accidental whistle by one of the refs made the play dead and gave Linden another first-and-10 play. Immediately, Kohmescher completed a 34-yard completion to DeGayner. Later, completions of 15 and 29 yards to Brenden Miller set up a 17-yard TD pass to Miller. Carson Kelley’s extra point made it a 21-0 Linden lead with 3:32 left in the half.
Holly was unable to move the ball on its next possession and Linden got the ball back at its own 36 with 1:16 left. Five plays later Kohmescher had his third TD pass of the game on a 17-yard TD reception to DeGayner. The Eagles led 28-0 with 18.4 seconds left in the half and took that lead into halftime.
There was no scoring in the second half, but the Eagles didn’t need it since they were up 28-0. However, the second half was a source of pride for Holly’s defense. They kept the Eagles from scoring twice from inside Holly’s 30. Holly varsity football coach Dallas Lesperance is pleased with his defense.
“We have made good defensive adjustments (at halftime during each of our games),” Lesperance said. “Offensively, we were able to throw the ball a bit, but we couldn’t sustain drives. We need to compliment our passing game with the running game.
“I’m really proud of our kids. They aren’t giving up and they are staying together. I didn’t have to give a speech at the end. My captain gave it and he said it’s time to go to work, let’s focus and get it done.”
Kohmescher completed 20-of-27 passes for 281 yards and three scores. Miller caught nine passes for 110 yards while DeGayner caught eight passes for 156 yards. Kohmescher also ran for 73 yards on 12 carries.
“I think it’s going to help us a lot,” Kohmescher said about the team’s offense’s success. “I think that also boost our front five. I think that got their confidence up. We really weren’t driving down the field the last two games but we drove down the field today, and it should boost our confidence.”
Holly’s quarterbacks (Hild and Ryan Morgan) combined to complete 11-for-22 passes for 117 yards. Bemman caught three passes for 54 yards. Linden’s Luke Gorkiewicz intercepted one of the Holly passes.