UPDATED w/quotes: The Eagles’ staple so far this season has been the play in the trenches by both the offensive and defensive lines which allowed Eagles playmakers to score points and respectively stopped opposing offenses. Unfortunately for Eastside that wasn’t the case Thursday night against region foe Jonesboro as the Eagles struggled to execute and fell 43-14 to Jonesboro.
“They’re a really good front and a good football team,” Troy Hoff, Eagles head coach, said. “We didn’t execute very well, which was a lot of it. But they did a very good job of spilling it to their big guys. Part of it was they had two really good defensive tackles that gave us some trouble all night. They executed well, we didn’t. That’s a big thing.”
“When you talk about the front, we’d have it protected, but we wouldn’t be open. Or we’d have guys open all night and we’d have either protection issues or the quarterback gets rushed a little bit. It seemed like we couldn’t get all 11 on the same page all night,” Hoff added.
Throughout the first half Jonesboro dominated the Eagles’ offensive and defensive lines. Jonesboro was able to get pressure on the quarterback which once resulted in a fumble returned for a touchdown and another time, Eagles’ QB Austin Holloway was sacked in the end zone while trying to escape pressure.
Holloway was running for his life all night and running backs Erick Stokes and Andrew Henderson couldn’t find any room as the Eagles defensive line wasn’t able to generate any push up the middle.
Eastside’s lone scoring drive came from using Stokes as a wideout and getting him in space to create offense. He got behind a Jonesboro defender on a fly route for a 46-yard gain that got the Eagles going. Stokes would eventually score on a 16-yard screen pass to get the Eagles within two possessions, down 23-7 with just over two minutes left in the second quarter.
However, Jonesboro was able to find room on the ensuing kickoff and managed to return the ball to the Eastside nine-yard line before being pushed out of bounds. On third-and-three Jonesboro’s Montralius Mosely scored from three yards out as he was able to keep his legs moving and fight through contact to get the touchdown.
“I told them at halftime I wanted to see how we’d respond and compete and we did that,” Hoff said. “We didn’t cash it in. We didn’t say, ‘It’s not our night. We’re just gonna fold our tent up.’ We played all the way to the end. We didn’t execute, but we stayed in there and fought to the end, that’s a positive with the team.”
To open the second half, Eastside forced a three-and-out and then quickly got into Cardinal territory. Holloway found Brayden Harper for a quick 20 yard gain and then followed with a pass to Caleb Allen for a 12-yard gain.
The 12-yard pickup was taken back after a bad snap/fumble resulted in a loss of 12 yards and forced the Eagles into second-and-long. Stokes would pick up 16 yards on the next two plays and Eastside chose to go for it on fourth-and-six.
Scrambling to his right, Holloway looked for a receiver while escaping pressure, but was quickly brought down and the Eagles’ momentum was ended with a turnover on downs.
The Cardinals got the ball back and Mosely picked up where he left off by rushing for an 11-yard touchdown, his fourth of the night.
Jonesboro forced a three-and-out, but the Eagles fumbled the snap on the punt attempt and Jonesboro got the ball back at the Eastside 19-yard line. Two plays later and Cardinal QB Zerrick Cooper hit Darrius Willis on a fade route for another touchdown, giving the Cardinals a commanding 43-7 lead.
Eastside got another touchdown on a fumble return, but that was about it as they fell to Jonesboro 43-14 falling to 4-1 on the season and 1-1 in Region 4-AAAA. Eastside will face Eagle’s Landing - who beat Jonesboro 17-7 the previous week - next week at home.