The Eastside Eagles turned what had been characterized as a category (state ranked) four Purple Hurricane into a less-imposing storm blowing out Region 8-AAAA Monroe Area 35-0 Friday night at Homer Sharp Stadium.
"We executed perfectly on defense," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "Perfectly. That's a good football team over there."
Both teams failed to put points on the board in the first quarter. But while everyone seemed to be waiting for the Monroe Area offense to surge ahead, the Eastside defense had other ideas.
After missing a field goal at the end of the first quarter, Eastside turned the ball over to Monroe at its own 20. The Purple Hurricanes committed three infractions on the possession and tried to punt the ball away. The punter mishandled the snap and by the time he came up with the ball, Eastside's Devante Campbell tackled him at the 11.
Eastside took advantage quickly, turning to Alex Smith who carried it in for a touchdown on the first play. Colton Smith booted the extra point, and Eastside had taken the lead over a team ranked fourth in the state with 9:18 left in the half.
The crowd may have thought the Purple Hurricane offense would get cranked up now that the Eagles had taken the lead with such consternation.
Not so much.
The Eagles were back on offense moments later after Antonius Sims recovered a fumble at the Eagle 37. Two plays later Demario Terrell hit Chase Chancey for 40 yards and it looked like the Eagles would score again.
But Monroe Area intercepted Terrell's next pass and took over at its own two.
A team with so much speed should be able to cover 98 yards in no time right?
Michael Gallup got the Purple Hurricanes out of the hole with a nice pass to Garrison for 30 yards, but he went to well once too often. Tre Cooper intercepted his next pass and returned it to the six-inch line.
Jamondi Smith scored on the first play, and, after Colton Smith kicked the extra-point, the Eagles took a 14 point lead.
The Eastside defense continued to stymie the Monroe offense and forced yet another three-and-out.
A few plays later Terrell found tight end Napoleon Johnson open across the middle for Eastside's third touchdown.
As hard as it was to believe, due to rankings, records and the pendants, the upset was well under way.
The Purple Hurricanes kicked off to the Eagles to open the second half, and Jamal Hardge promptly took it to the house, 97 yards and a 28-0 lead.
"We're in a nightmare here," one of the Walton County radio crew members said.
Unfortunately for Eastside's neighbors from up north, the nightmare was not quite over.
After an exchange of punts, the Eagles started another drive at their own 33. Dial up a 14-yard run from Jamondi Smith, a 40-yard catch and run by Alex Smith, and the Eagles were threatening to take a huge - and unexpected - lead.
Alex Smith took the next handoff and darted into the end zone. The point after made it 35-0, which goes to prove that any team can still win on any given night in the world of high school football.
"I'm so proud of our staff and our players," Hurst said. "With the injuries we've had, we just keep playing hard. Antonius went out tonight and everybody just kept playing."
The road turns east next week as the Eagles get another shot at one of the top teams in the state and this time in the state playoffs: No. 1-ranked Sandy Creek will host round one in Tyrone as the number one seed in their region.