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November 17, 2012

So close: Linton stopped inside 1-yard line on fourth down in overtime

Denied trip to Class A championship game

LINTON — Linton’s Miners were 1 for 2 on fourth-down plays from inside the Indianapolis Scecina 1-yard line Friday night.

And unfortunately, the one the Miners didn’t convert came in overtime, a win-or-lose play in Class A high school football semistate action that let the visiting Crusaders escape with a 17-14 victory and a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium next Friday.

The Miner defense had more than done its part — with the exception of two running plays — and the Miners stoned the Scecina offense to start overtime. Luke Frain, who had badly hooked a field goal attempt midway through the fourth quarter, was good on this one from 25 yards away, but still the home team seemed in perfect position to win.

Three running plays went for 3, 2 and 41⁄2 yards. But the Crusader defensive line made the play that counted, ending the game and the Linton season.

The home team had a 111-yard edge in total offense and a huge dominance in first downs — ironically controlling the ball like the visitors had been expected to.

When the Miners forced a Scecina punt to start the third quarter, then marched 69 yards in 15 plays — and 7 minutes and 20 seconds — to take a 14-7 lead on Austin Karazsia’s fourth-down quarterback sneak (deciding if he’d crossed the goal line seemed to take an eternity) it looked like Linton had grabbed momentum. A high snap oin Scecina’s first play after the kickoff, resulting in a 15-yard loss, made it look even more so.

But Crusader fullback David Tarver had broken one long run to set up the visitors’ only score in the first half, and on second-and-25 he struck again, this time going all 75 yards for a touchdown that tied the score.

Despite two Linton turnovers — a fumble on a fourth-down gamble that would have been successful if the ball carrier had maintained possession, then a tipped pass that was intercepted — the Miners preserved the tie. Even when Scecina got inside the 15-yard line after the interception, they got no points thanks to the missed field-goal attempt.

Linton mounted one final drive as the fourth-quarter clock wound down, getting a first down at the Scecina 31-yard line with about a minute left. A second down pass in the end zone was just off the hands of a Linton receiver and a fourth-down run came up short with 39 seconds left.

The first half had been a punting duel until late in the first quarter, when Tarver broke free for a 42-yard run. He scored on a 6-yard run on the first play of the second quarter.

Linton’s offense started to gain some traction the rest of the half, and the Miners tied the score with a 58-yard, 11-play drive. Karazsia connected with Zane Hayden for a 21-yard gain, Abram Neff picked up a first down on a fourth-down carry and Karazsia found Dane Rupska for a 12-yard gain on third-and-6. On second-and-goal, Karazsia hit Rupska again in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard scoring pass with 56 seconds left in the second quarter.

 Scecina dropped as many as eight defenders into coverage all night, which often limited the Miners’ deep passing options. Karazsia was still 21 for 28, although for just 139 yards, and the 6-foot-7 senior also helped by becoming more of a running threat than usual. As a team, however, the Miners averaged only 3 yards per carry.

Tarver ended up with 162 yards on 14 carries for Scecina, which had just 173 total yards for the game.

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