The Eastside Eagles defeated the Newton Rams 34-28 at Sharp Stadium on Friday in a comeback victory that lived up to the rivalry hype.
The Eagles jumped out to a 19-0 lead before Newton rallied back to take the lead with just over two minutes to play. But Eastside prevailed.
Eastside coach Rick Hurst said he was proud of his team for persevering under pressure, while commending the Rams for their comeback effort.
"I’m so proud," Hurst said. "(Our team) just kept fighting and they never gave up. (Newton) wanted to win as bad as we did. Their quarterback is a special guy and he’s going to do some big things and they are going to win a lot of football games."
Leading 28-27 with 2:19 left in the contest, Newton fumbled the ball at its 38-yard line, turning the ball over deep in its own territory. Eastside used the late miscue to end the Rams’ comeback attempt, scoring three plays later on a Demario Terrell touchdown pass to Evan House.
The pass capped off a 7-for-18 passing night for Terrell, who threw for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the win. The Eastside quarterback also had 61 rushing yards on eight attempts.
The Eastside offense rolled easily for much of the first half, scoring 19 unanswered points to open the game behind touchdown runs from Anthony Henderson, Jomandi Smith and Terrell. Henderson used a 19-yard run to find the end zone on Eastside’s first score, while Smith and Terrell each ran for 2-yard scores to give the Eagles the large advantage.
Newton trimmed the Eagles’ lead to 19-15 with a Romario Johnson touchdown pass to Taylor Hawkins, a Dez Billingsley safety and a 26-yard scoring bomb from Johnson to Davonta Jones.
Billingsley stuffed the Eagles' Jones in the end zone for the defensive score, with Jones ending a 42-yard scoring drive for the Rams.
The Rams claimed their first lead of the game with 15-yard scoring run from Johnson, quieting the Eagles’
crowd after the team’s hot start.
The Eagles reclaimed the lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Terrell to Holloway, but Newton grabbed the advantage back with an 89-yard kickoff return from Toyous Avery with 2:19 left in the contest.
Newton held the 28-27 lead before House's touchdown grab.
Newton's Johnson went 14-of-27 in his opening debuet, passing for 170 yards and two scores through the air. Johnson also added 28 rushing yards and a score on 10 attempts.
The win marks the second victory in a row in the rivalry contest for Eastside.
Both teams will return to action next week, as Eastside travels to Jackson, while Newton makes a road trip to Lowndes.
Games are set to begin at 7:30 p.m.