LOGANVILLE, Ga. — Loganville will get credit for a 13-10 victory over Eastside, but it was more like a one-inch win for the Red Devils.
With 3:30 remaining in the game facing a fourth and goal from the 2-yard line, Eastside head coach Jay Cawthon elected to go for the touchdown instead of kicking a 19-yard field goal.
Kenai Grier took the direct snap out of the wildcat to the left of the formation. He powered and pushed his way close to the goal line with assistance from his offensive line.
But, when the pile was broken up, both side officials ran in marking Grier what seemed like just an inch short of the goal line.
Loganville's defense stiffened at the right time to set up its offense and bleed the rest of the clock.
Nevertheless, Cawthon stood by his decision to try for the go-ahead touchdown.
“I trust my guys,” Cawthon said. “That’s what I told them in that locker room [after the game]. We’re on the 2-yard line, I trust my guys to get in. It’s all about trusting my guys and having faith in my guys. I love my team.”
As a result, neither team was able to crack the scoreboard in the entire second half. Solomon Leslie’s one-yard touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half was enough for Loganville to remain unbeaten at 7-0 — the first time for the Red Devils since 1971.
Other than the fourth and goal play, though, Eastside had its chances to draw even and even retake the lead from the Red Devils.
For instance, with 6:11 remaining in the third quarter, Thomas Hill’s 45-yard field goal attempt was a few yards short that would’ve tied the game.
And, a few moments before that, a Jayden Barr 26-yard touchdown run was negated due to a holding penalty. The Eagles accumulated over 110 penalty yards when the night was over.
Cawthon pointed to the amount of penalties as his team’s Achilles heel.
“The penalties have killed us all year in crucial situations,” Cawthon said. “And they came back to bite us in the butt tonight. That’s what we got to clean up are the penalties.”
Even though Eastside’s offense was shut out in the second half, it had the best start it could’ve asked for coming out of the gate.
On the first play from scrimmage, Grier found the right edge and jetted down the field for a 79-yard score just 22 seconds in the game.
Loganville responded with a touchdown drive capped off by Leslie’s first score of the game. Eastside blocked the ensuing PAT to keep the Eagles ahead 7-6 with 5:40 left in the opening quarter.
Hill extended Eastside’s lead to 10-6 off a 32-yard field goal to conclude the Eagles’ scoring for the night.
From there, it remained a close game that came down to the wire, which was reminiscent of the previous two matchups between these two schools on the gridiron.
The last two games were decided by a combined five points with Eastside winning both. Before Friday night, Loganville’s last win against Eastside came on Sept. 9, 2016, a 21-0 triumph.
Both teams resume their Region 8-AAAAA schedule following Thursday’s result. The Eagles (4-2, 1-1) will face the Heritage Patriots on Thursday, Oct. 6. Loganville (7-0, 3-0), on the other hand, will be on the road to take on Clarke Central next Friday.
Cawthon believes his team has the ability to bounce back following Thursday’s close loss.
“You got to [flush tonight’s outcome],” Cawthon said. “That comes with maturity with how our team is going to handle it. Everything is still in front of us. We can make a push for the playoffs, but we have to come back Monday ready to go.”