Beau Eaton stepped into the void one more time Friday night to keep Class A No. 1-ranked Linton undefeated and headed to the Sectional 48 championship game once again.
Eaton scored two touchdowns and interception a pass in the fourth quarter to preserve a 28-24 Linton victory over Tecumseh in the sectional semifinal for high school football at Roy Williams Field.
The victory sends the 11-0 Miners to Perry Central for what has become a traditional showdown between the two southern Indiana Class A powers.
Eaton, who stepped in to play quarterback three weeks ago for the injured Brian Rupska, moved to defensive back with 10:32 to play in the game when Grant Stamm suffered an apparent broke ankle or leg while blocking on a punt return.
Stamm, a state track meet qualifier in the hurdles, was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to the hospital after a doctor on the field applied an air cast.
“Losing Grant, that’s definitely going to hurt us. I had to take his spot on defense and I felt like it was a great defensive play. I was in the right spot at the right time,” Eaton said.
Stamm’s injury adds to a long list of starters whom Linton has lost to injuries and other issues over the last three weeks. Rupska, running back Austin Hale and tackle Indiana Miller have all been out since Week 8 of the regular season.
“Our philosophy is we’re always going to be the next man up, no matter what. Someone goes down [with an injury], someone else has got to step up,” Linton coach Brian Oliver said.
Linton built a 21-6 halftime lead and took a 28-12 lead with 1:42 left in the third quarter when Eaton capped a 12-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“[Eaton] made the first downs, made some good throws for us. Beau’s stepping in and really filling that QB spot for us,” Oliver said.
Tecumseh drove to the Linton 4-yard line as the third quarter ended, but fumbled on the opening play of the fourth period. Linton trackle Braxton Lannan recovered the loose ball.
When Linton punted, Stamm was injured and Eaton stepped into the defensive secondary. That didn’t slow Tecumseh’s Adam Grannan, who completed 22 of 37 passes for 263 yards and four TDs.
Grannan completed touchdown passes of 15 yards and 5 yards to bring the Braves within 28-24 with 3:04 to play.
The Miners punted the ball away with 1:14 to play and on the first play, Tecumseh threw the bomb. Grannan’s long pass hung in the air and Eaton stepped in front of the receiver for the interception that secured the win.
“The defense really [carried us]. The big play there, [Eaton] didn’t give up the deep pass. [Eaton] made the interception there at the end and that’s a big key. He’s a great player for us and I’m proud to have him on the team.”
Linton scored the first TD of the night, marching 70 yards in nine plays. Eaton found Stamm for a 32-yard pass play and two downs later Mitch Eberhardt ran for another 16. Eberhardt scored on a 9-yard rush.
Michael Thompson’s PAT kick for Linton was the difference early as Tecumseh came right back with a touchdown.
Tecumseh’s Spencer Jones took a pass from quarterback Adam Grannan 47 yards for a TD. However, the Braves missed the PAT kick.
Linton extended the lead to 14-6 five minutes into the second quarter when Eaton ran 19 yards to the Tecumseh 1 and scored from there on the next play.
Hayden set up Linton’s third TD when he returned a punt 61 yards to the Tecumseh 5. Hayden finished the job on the next play and Thompson’s kick put the Miners on top 21-6 at halftime.
Linton 28, Tecumseh 24
Tecumseh 6 0 6 12 — 24
Linton 7 14 7 0 — 28
L — Mitch Eberhardt 9 run (Michael Thompson kick), 4:48 1Q
T — Spencer Jones 53 pass from Adam Grannan (kick failed), 3:32 1Q
L — Beau Eaton 1 run (Thompson kick), 7:01 2Q
L — Zane Hayden 5 run (Thompson kick), 4:33 2Q
T — Alex Hall 16 pass from Grannan (pass failed), 7:06 3Q
L — Eaton 1 run (Thompson kick), 1:42 3Q
T — Hall 15 pass from Grannan (pass failed), 9:07 4Q
T — Garrett Tuley 5 pass from Grannan (pass failed), 3:04 4Q
First downs 16 14
Rushes-yards 22-36 43-133
Passing yards 263 101
Comp-Att-Int 22-37-3 5-14-1
Total offense 59-299 57-234
Return yards 110 101
Punts-Avg. 2-30.0 3-34.3
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 11-90 4-36.5
Rushing — Tecumseh, Taylor 11-20, Grannan 9-12, Lytle 1-4, Lautner 1-0. Linton, Eaton 19-53, Eberhardt 9-38, Hayden 9-24, Herndon 6-18.
Passing — Tecumseh, Grannan 22-27-3 263. Linton, Eaton 5-14-1 101.
Receiving — Tecumseh, Hall 9-79, Tuley 4-48, Taylor 4-27, Jones 3-82, Oxley 1-14, Lautner 1-13. Linton, Hayden 2-29, Stamm 1-32, Vowell 1-21, Eberhardt 1-19.
Next — Linton (11-0) plays at Perry Central at 8 p.m. next Friday.