The seniors of Eastside put an exclamation point on their great season at Homer Sharp Stadium Saturday night as the Eagles defeated Rockdale County, 42-6.
The Eagles (7-2 overall, 2-2 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region B) improved their record to 3-1 at Sharp Stadium, and head coach Rick Hurst was glad his seniors walked away with their final victory at home.
"I'm proud of the seniors as they go out on a winning note," remarked Hurst. "This is one game that they won't forget."
Eastside began the game a bit rough in its first series when quarterback Justin Wray fumbled on a keeper. It was recovered by Rockdale's Grady Jarrett at Eastside's 47-yard line.
But the Bulldogs (1-8, 1-4) could not move the football in their first series and was forced to punt the ball away.
Eastside gathered itself and dominated the Bulldogs with an impressive 10-play drive that ended when Broderick Alexander scored on a 7-yard touchdown run. With the point-after by Yanrick Tinker, Eastside was on the board first with one minute and 38 seconds left in the first quarter.
After the Bulldogs self-destructed at the start of the second quarter, Eastside wasted no time with its first possession. Johnny Norrington took the handoff and rumbled 59 yards for the touchdown. With Tinker's kick, the Eagles led 14-0 with 11:24 remaining before the half.
With 9:18 remaining in the second quarter at Eastside's 15-yard line, Wray connected with Norrington for an 85-yard touchdown play. The point-after and Eastside began its rout, 21-0.
Norrington, who started for the injured Larenzo Echols, was the key in Eastside's victory.
"(Norrington) has been waiting all year to bust out," said Hurst. "With (Echols) out, he was going to carry the load a little bit; I'm just real proud of what he did."
The remaining quarter was filled with turnovers for both sides.
Eastside backup quarterback Jake Casteel entered the game; however, on the sixth play of the series he threw an interception to Reshaun Ferrell in the end zone.
On Rockdale's second possession, Easton Barrett threw an interception to Jamario Parks at Rockdale's 37-yard line.
Wray returned at quarterback, only to be picked off by Neville Hewitt at the Rockdale 7-yard line. A 37-yard run by Javon Lucus ended the first half, with eastside ahead 21-0.
The second half became the "Eastside Defensive Show" as Easton Barrett was drilled by Bo Childers, to which he lost the ball. Kevin Agudo recovered it with 8:34 remaining.
Eastside then rallied on the turnover with a 4-play drive, ending with Norrington scoring on a 20-yard touchdown run. With Tinker's kick, the score extended to 28-0 with 7:02 left in the third.
After a 9-play drive, Childers then leveled Barrett again, causing another fumble in which Jacory Maddox recovered at the Eastside 35-yard line.
Eastside then put together a 7-play drive, ending when Rashed Hill finished it after a toss play for a 30-yard touchdown run. With Tinker's kick, the score was 35-0 with 1:31 remaining.
It was at this time when Marquize Warren took over at quarterback for the Bulldogs. On his first possession, Warren was hit from behind at Rockdale's 10-yard line. After a mad scramble, Hunter Parker landed on top of the ball for the touchdown. Tinker's kick made it 42-0 with 1:06 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, Javon Lucus fumbled the ball, recovered by Jamario Parks at Eastside's 2-yard line.
On second and goal at the 1-yard line, Bridecous Aikens lost the ball to which Reshaun Ferrell recovered to end the third quarter.
Rockdale would not go gentle into the night, as the Bulldogs mounted a 7-play drive with Lucus taking the handoff and rumbling 54 yards for Rockdale's only touchdown in the game.
After a failed two-point conversion, the Bulldogs would limp away 42-6 with 6:52 left in the game.
"The kid (Lucus) has a lot of heart," said Rockdale County head coach William Johnson. "In time, he will be a really good player."
Eastside mounted over 400 yards of total offense for the entire game (244 yards rushing and 173 yards passing).
The Eagles will travel to Athens to face Clarke Central (6-2-1 overall, 5-1 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region A) that will determine who will face defending 8-AAAA Champion Habersham Central (9-1, 6-0) in the playoffs for the title.
"We have got to play a perfect game," said Hurst. "(Clarke Central) is beatable, and we've got a great shot at winning."