LOGANVILLE - For the second straight week, the Eastside varsity football team was not only victorious but also held its opponent scoreless, proving that defense wins football games.
Despite a packed house within the confines of the brand new Red Devil Stadium, Eastside (2-0) greeted Loganville (1-1) with a 21-0 thumping Friday evening on Alumni Night.
But more importantly for the Eagles, it was their first road victory in four years, as they outranked the Red Devils in nearly every aspect of the game.
"The monkey is off the back," smiled Eastside head coach Rick Hurst after the game. "I'm just really proud of them. And I can't say enough about our coaching staff, either. They did a great job."
Prior to Friday night's win, the last time Eastside won on the road was October 3, 2003 against Habersham Central, 20-14.
And the Eagles did it the good old fashioned way, using a tough defense that limited Loganville to just 74 total net yards - 300 fewer than what Eastside accumulated (374). As a result, Loganville was forced to punt twice as many times than Eastside (six).
In addition, the Eagles had 16 first downs compared to six, while controlling most of the play clock in an effective and efficient manner.
"It makes us very dangerous," said Hurst regarding the unique balance of his offense. "As long as we can continue being a threat from both ways then we've got a chance to win a lot of ball games."
For Eastside, the plan was simple: Stop the run, particularly Loganville tailback Zach West.
Last week, West rushed for 230 yards in the 28-7 win against Monroe Area. Naturally, Hurst felt that if the Eagles held the senior running back to less than 100 yards then his team would have a good chance of winning.
He was right.
The Eastside defense clamped down on West by sealing off holes and not allowing the big play, limiting him to 72 yards on 15 carries.
"I thought we did a good job on (West)," said Hurst. "He didn't have many cutbacks, and that's what he was looking for. Every time he tried to cut back we had somebody sitting there waiting for him. I'm real proud of the pursuit (and) our defensive game plan."
The Eagles wasted no time in getting down to business. They scored during their first drive of the game using 11 plays, chewing up nearly six minutes of clock in the first quarter alone.
Eastside quarterback Justin Wray was perfect throughout the drive, completing all four passes while rushing for 14 yards. Broderick Alexander capped it off with a five-yard touchdown reception, and after Yanrick Tinker's extra point it was 7-0.
The score would remain the same entering the next quarter until the final two minutes before halftime.
It was at this point when Loganville defensive lineman Eric Wade sacked Wray, giving the impression that Eastside would enter the locker room up seven. But after a 15-yard penalty (personal foul) was called against the Red Devils, the Eagles set up shop on their own 44-yard line, looking to pad their lead, to which the dark green and silver did.
After the sack, Wray pulled out some fancy moves that would even make a "Dancing with the Stars" contestant jealous, as he gained a 30-yard keeper while dodging would-be tacklers along the right sideline. During the next possession, he zipped a pass to Jerome Ivey (three catches for 32 yards) which ultimately set up a 23-yard touchdown throw to none other than Alexander.
After the extra point, the Eagles led 14-0 entering the break.
"He had a great night," said Hurst of Wray's performance. "You can see it's starting to slow down for him. And the protection was awesome - we had great protection (from) our offensive line."
Once the third quarter began, it was four-and-out for Loganville. The Eagles countered by immediately increasing their lead on six plays, thanks to a one-yard touchdown rush by Larenzo Echols and another extra point by Tinker (three points), making it 21-0.
Of course, it would not have happened unless Eastside's Andrico Bailey hadn't made the play of the game, which included a leaping 40-yard reception down the middle of the field. The catch put his team on Loganville's 12-yard line and in prime scoring position.
"He made some acrobatic catches," said Hurst of Bailey (four receptions for 101 yards). "He's just that kind of player."
However, Bailey was forced to exit the game early due to a bruised tailbone. Otherwise, the star receiver would have added on to his already impressive totals.
Although the Red Devils then tried to make something happen, the scheme backfired. During their next possession, Loganville quarterback Drew Payne fumbled after getting drilled from behind, to which JaCorey Maddox eagerly recovered the loose ball.
For Loganville, the turnover seemed to erase any hope of a comeback, as the score would remain 21-0 entering the final quarter.
"They were bound and determined to stop the run," said Hurst of his defensive line.
After yet another turnover on downs for Loganville, the Eagles ate some clock with a nine-play drive at midfield, giving the Red Devils five minutes and 45 seconds left to put some points on the board.
But the Eastside defense didn't care how much time was allowed for such a task. William White and Andrew Vazquez recorded back-to-back sacks to make it fourth and 25 on Loganville's own 19-yard line, closing the deal and granting the Eagles yet another shutout win.
It should also be noted that the officials let the teams play. A combined five penalties were called between both schools, equaling just 63 yards.
Overall, Wray completed 74 percent of his passes (14 for 19) including 166 passing yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he led the Eagles with 77 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
In comparison, Payne was six for 12 with 20 passing yards. He also had six carries for -29 yards.
As a result, Wray had a quarterback efficiency rating of 181.81, while Payne was held to just 53.06.
Eastside's Johnny Norrington had seven carries for 47 yards, while Bridecous Aiken, Alexander and Echols combined for 80 rushing yards.
Defensively, Maurice Gaither led the Eagles with 6.5 tackles. Maddox and White each had 4.5, while Caleb Pass and Vazquez recorded three tackles apiece.
Loganville's Drew Scheie led his team with six tackles, followed by Drew Moore (5.5) and Joseph Cantrell (4.5). Chandler Smith, Charlie Prince, Andre Foster and Wade each recorded four tackles.
Eastside will host Madison County at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.