Eastside (2-2, Region 4-AAAA) came into the game against Jonesboro (1-3, Region 4-AAAA) after suffering a humiliating loss to No. 3 ranked Griffin. However, that wasn’t all that was ailing the Eagles. Sophomore starting running back Eric Stokes and backup Andrew Henderson were both sidelined with injuries, however Eastside played well and had a chance to win before losing in overtime, 27-21.
Without Stokes and Henderson, fans were left wondering how Eastside would move the ball on the ground. Enter Carlos Huggins and his cousin Anthony Brown. Huggins, who was injured this week as well, got the nod to go on Friday and provided the Eagles with some push on the ground.
Huggins and Brown combined for over 100 yards rushing on the day and Huggins accounted for two of the Eagles three touchdowns, one on a 15-yard run and the other was three-yard reception from Austin Holloway.
“Carlos got the nod today — thank goodness — and just had a great game for us running the football. He’s just a heck of a player,” Eagles head coach Rick Hurst said.
“I was proud of Anthony Brown for coming in, No. 27 that’s Carlos’ cousin, and he ran the ball hard and blocked well,” Hurst added. “(He) did some good things, that’s a sophomore. That’s a great sign for him because we needed him to step up.”
Coming into the game, Hurst and his coaching staff wanted to addres the Eagles’ issues on defense. In last week’s game against Griffin, Eastside missed too many tackles that resulted in touchdowns for the opposition.
“At times it (the defense) was good, at times it wasn’t. The one drive that they had to open up the second half, it wasn’t good,” Hurst said.
The Eagles led 13-0 at halftime, and looked to be on their way to victory. But the second half was a completely different game.
Jonesboro came out of halftime with a different mindset. The Cardinals got into Eagles’ territory after a string of consecutive runs. The Eagles’ defense forced multiple third downs on the drive that they just couldn’t turn into stops. A screen pass here and a quick out route there turned into first downs for the Cardinals’ offense.
Cardinals’ running back Sabree Curtis Jr. ran in for the touchdown after a six minute drive to begin the second half, with the Eagles leading 13-7.
The Eagles’ mistakes caused penalties on their next drive that resulted in an unconverted third-and-25. On the Cardinals next possession, the Eagles’ inability to wrap up reared its ugly head when a Cardinal back broke at least eight tackles for a 49 yard gain into Eagles’ territory. Shortly after, Jordan Griffin caught a long touchdown pass and the Cardinals took the lead 14-13 with just more than 10 minutes to go.
“Penalties tonight hurt us. Little things like that, that you can’t do against good teams,” Hurst said. “They’ve got some good players that can make some things happen. We’ll bounce back.”
Eastside showed life midway through the fourth. The Eagles used a 59-yard completion from Holloway to insert number to set up Huggins’ 15-yard score. Up just 19-14, the Eagles had to go for two. Holloway scrambled out to the right looking for an open receiver, but he couldn’t find anything so he ran around the edge and dove in for the conversion.
The Cardinals answered the Eagles 59-yard completion with a six-yard catch that turned into a 63-yard touchdown for Curtis Jr to tie the game at 21.
Both teams had chances to score before regulation ended, but neither was able to get anything going.
On the first play of overtime, Huggins ran the ball up the gut to get inside the five-yard line. The Eagles fumbled on the next play and the Cardinals took over.
After a first down on third and nine, Jonesboro ran a wheel route to Brandon Wilson for the touchdown and the Cardinals’ first victory of the season.
“I thought our kids played hard, as always. We just shot ourself in the foot tonight,” Hurst said. “We got down there in overtime and we got a chance to win. We just put the ball on the ground and they get it, so it takes our momentum away.”
Hurst added, “It’s like I told our guys, ‘The way our region is set up, now they start counting. You run the table, and you’re still No. 1 in sub-region and you got a chance to win a region championship.’”