Eastside’s theme for the football season is ‘don’t quit.’ That theme couldn’t have rung more truly than in Friday night’s game on the road against Madison County. The Eagles came away with a thrilling victory in overtime, winning 28-21 in the extra period after trailing by seven with less than four minutes to go. In this exclusive Q&A, Eagles head coach Rick Hurst recaps the Eagles eventful win against Madison and the 97-yard drive that made it happen.
The Covington News: You told me, you guys’ theme for the season is ‘don’t quit’. How much of that came out in your players Friday night?
Rick Hurst: It really showed because we jumped on them early, and they battled back and took a lead in the third quarter. We were down 21-14 and things just weren’t going our way. We missed a couple field goal opportunities that helped give them the momentum. With three minutes and something to go, we had to drive 97 yards, tied it up and kicked the extra point, which was a little bit of a mystery last night whether we were gonna get ‘em or not. Won the toss in overtime, we got the ball and scored on the first possession and then the defense held on. It was a total team win Friday night.
CN: Coach, talk a little bit about that 97-yard drive to tie the game.
Hurst: I thought we did a really good job mixing the run and pass. We had plenty of time, but we only had one timeout left. With our pace we didn’t really need it. We were ready to go soon as things were set. Josh Sims had some big catches on the drive, Austin Holloway had some big throws and then Andrew Henderson had a couple big runs and catches. The touchdown was actually set up by a big catch and run by Evan House, who had a touchdown catch already. He (House) got it down to the four and Andrew Henderson was able to punch it in on the final play of the drive. Great protection up front for Austin to step in the pocket and throw and the receivers doing a good job of getting open and moving the chains.
CN: I know we talked a little bit last weekend, you said after the game against Alcovy there was some stuff you wanted to work on. Did you see the improvement in those areas Friday night?
Hurst: In the first half they were able to get some pressure on Austin, which we didn’t feel last week. We gotta correct that going against the team we’re getting ready to face and then going into our region. I thought we did some good things defensively — the second half especially. They tried to go spread on us, that just wasn’t gonna work with our athletic ability and our pass rush, they just couldn’t get anything going. Then they go to a triple option look and it gave us some fits, but we were able to — in the fourth quarter — shut it down. Once we went back up, they had to go back to the air and I feel like that’s where our strong point is, because we got such good pressure up front. Arthur Holmes had a big game again, he’s just a beast on our defensive line for us. I thought our kids in the secondary played pretty well too.
CN: Coach, you have an excellent sophomore class and it seems like you guys are playing exceptionally well right now. Do you think they’re playing above their expectations?
Hurst: Nah. They expect to win. They’re the most competitive group I’ve ever been around. Friday night was evidence, with Austin stepping up and plus he’s a team captain. Chandler Sweat, sophomore on the offensive line playing left tackle, Josh Sims another sophomore wideout — they just don’t like to lose. They look for ways to make plays and they’re constantly competing and trying to make themselves better as well as those around them. So no, the expectations for that class is definitely great. They’re just starting to show it at a much earlier age than a lot of people would anticipate.
CN: How good do you think these guys can be? Obviously, they’re just sophomores so you got at least two more years with them.
Hurst: Well it’s gonna be fun to watch. They’re already fun to be around and fun to watch. They’re just gonna continue to get better and better. I’m just thankful I got ‘em for two more years, and, like I said, it’s gonna fun to sit around just see how good they can be.