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Eagles' defense comes up huge in win

Eastside (4-2, 2-2) started off its region schedule this year with two tough losses Griffin and Jonesboro. But since then, Eagles’ head coach Rick Hurst has gotten his team back on track and focused on making a push for the state playoffs.

They started with a pounding of Eagle’s Landing, and had the chance to get to .500 in their region record with a win against Locust Grove on Saturday night. It was and up and down game, but the Eagles did just that defeating the Wildcats 38- 29, at Homer Sharp Stadium.

“Great job to the coaching staff,” Hurst said. “Putting together a great plan putting us into position to win.”
The running game seemed to be a point of emphasis for the Eagles as it was evident on their first drive of the game. Using a combination of backs, Eastside was able to move the ball down the field on their first drive but it was stalled by the Wildcats’ defense and ended with a missed field goal.

Eastside’s defense didn’t look so hot the first time they took the field, especially stopping the run. Locust Grove’s offense had 56 yards rushing on their first drive, led by running back Caleb Huntley and quarterback Cameron Maddox. Maddox a six foot, 215-pound quarterback, had a little Tim Tebow-ish look to him as ran the ball effectively against the Eagles, finishing of their first drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

Eastside continued to run the ball with success, but it was there passing game that held them back in the beginning of the game. Quarterback Austin Holloway had a slow start to the game, and really couldn’t reach a full rhythm throughout the game. His running game continued to help him out as Carlos Huggins had a huge 42-yard run early in the second quarter that led to the Eagles’ field goal.

Holloway’s buddy Josh Sims seemed to kick him out of his funk as Holloway connected with him for a 51-yard bomb down the middle of the field for a touchdown. From that point on, you could see the confidence in Eastside’s offense. The screen game helped the Eagles out tremendously, as they used it to march down field with under two minutes left in the half. Holloway gave Eastside a 16-15 lead at halftime when he connected with Evan House for a 10-yard touchdown.
In the second half, Eastside’s offense continued its success with great balance between running the ball, passes and the screen game. Carlos Huggins led Eastside’s first drive in the second half with a 16-yard run and a four-yard touchdown run.

Eastside’s defense started to make some big plays of their own, including recovering a fumble in the middle of third quarter which led to a field goal. From that point, both teams exchanged touchdown drives; Eastside by using its screen game, and Locust Grove by its physical run game.

The game became intense late as Eastside’s defense gave up a late touchdown through the air on a 23-yard pass by Maddox to Champ Leddon. Eastside led the game 31-29 with less than four minutes in the game. But, Eastside’s offense did exactly what it did not need to do, turnover the ball. Trying to milk the clock by running the ball, Eastside fumblde the ball and the Wildcats hopped on it giving its offense a chance to win the game. After a plethora of huge plays on offense, Eastside’s defense was starving to make a game-changing play, and Ladrakigus Lott came to the rescue. Lott picked off an errant pass from Maddox and took it 55 yards for a touchdown to ice the game.

“He’s (Lott) a great kid,” Hurst said. “I’m on him all the time about playing and practicing hard every day.”