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PREP FOOTBALL: Gladiators spoil Eastside’s homecoming
Eastside HC
Clarke Central running back William Richardson (24) tries to evade Eastside defenders D’Von Duplessis (16) and Jalen Farmer (58) during the first quarter at Sharp Stadium in Covington on Friday night. - photo by Taylor Beck

COVINGTON, Ga. — It’s hard to win a game when the offense doesn’t score a touchdown. Eastside proved that  when it lost to Clarke Central 13-6 on Friday night at Sharp Stadium. 

The defense did more than its share, only surrendering two touchdowns. It was the woes of the offense that was the Eagles’ Achilles heel all night long. 

That was made evident in the final two minutes of the contest. 

Eastside’s defense forced a turnover on downs when it stuffed Gladiator running back Kendrick Curry for no gain on a fourth and 1. 

Trailing 13-6, the Eagles’ offense returned to the field looking to score its first touchdown of the night with a chance to tie the game. 

The team got a few yards down field, converted a fourth and 5 but, yet again, the drive stalled. 

This time it was stalled by Clarke Central’s Bilal Jones when he intercepted E’Sean Arnold’s third down pass. 

Jones’ interception put the game on ice with Lucian Anderson III kneeling to kill the clock. 

For most of the night, Eastside’s defense kept Clarke Central’s offense guessing, but the Eagles’ offense was left guessing when all was said and done. 

By courtesy of two Clarke Central miscues, the Eagles put six points up on the board. 

After the defense forced a fourth and 13, Cooper Evans fumbled the snap on the ensuing punt giving the Eagles their best starting field position of the night at the 18-yard line. 

Three run plays were stuffed and Eastside elected to go for the field goal. 

Rodney Williams split the uprights from 28 yards out with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter to cut the Gladiator lead to 6-3. 

Later, trailing 13-3 in the fourth quarter, Williams connected again, this time from 26 yards out. That field goal was set up by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against the Gladiators that advanced the ball inside the 20-yard line. 

Only allowing one score in the first half, the Eagles’ defense looked worn out when the second half commenced. 

It was largely due to the rushing attack led by backup running back Jadayvion Adkins. 

Particularly on its second drive of the second half, Adkins would chip away with some short runs. Those drew the Eagles defense close to the line of scrimmage. 

The Gladiators took advantage with a deep pass from Anderson that ended up in the hands of Antonio Jewell Jr., for a 36-yard pass to the 3-yard line. 

One play later, Jewell scored on a speed sweep to the right edge to extend the Gladiators’ lead 13-3. 

Concerning the Eagles’ offense, they couldn’t get anything going consistently all night. 

It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. 

Eastside attempted every way imaginable to get its star players into space. It called a few swing passes to Dallas Johnson, speed sweeps for Kenai Grier and even attempted a few deep passes to open things up a bit. 

All of it was to no avail. 

Sometimes Arnold’s passes wouldn’t even make it past the line of scrimmage becuase the Gladiators’ front four would bat the ball down. And when Arnold could get a pass off, Clarke Central’s secondary would break it up. 

Moving forward, the Eagles have a lot of questions to answer on the offensive side of the ball. They’ll need to answer them quickly as they welcome another regional opponent to town in the Loganville Devils next week.