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Nice debut
Terrell's 3 TDs in first start help Eagles snap three-game skid
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For the first time in almost a month, Eastside looked like, well, Eastside.

After taking over at quarterback during the bye week, sophomore Demario Terrell threw three touchdowns in his first-career start, the defense pitched its first shutout and the Eagles rolled to a 36-0 win over Eagles Landing Friday to snap a three-game skid and keep their playoff hopes alive.

"It wasn’t pretty but 36-0, you can’t complain," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "I said we were going to do what we did to try and spark the team and I think it did. I thought we did some good things but we still have some things to work on but it feels good to win."

Terrell took advantage of his opportunity to throw for 179 yards to go with his three scores and at times, showed an ability to make turn a broken play into something positive.

"He (Terrell) played well. He gave us a spark and I was really proud of the way he played," Hurst said. "He kind of improvised a couple times and made some throws and that’s what he has to do. Sometimes it doesn’t work out exactly the way you draw it up so he did a good job of making things out of nothing and that’s what gave us the opportunity to break the game open."

Dante Blackmon hauled in two touchdown receptions and eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the second straight game and Jamondi Smith scored two touchdowns on the ground to lead the Eagles’ most balanced attack since their 35-14 win over Locust Grove in week three. Blackmon had five catches for a game-high 112 yards.

"Last week he (Blackmon) had those catches for a hundred and something yards and just couldn’t get into the end zone. But this week he got in there twice and you know, Demario put it on the money," Hurst said. "That’s what happens when you get a guy open and behind folks. He’s (Blackmon) going to have an opportunity to get behind people you just have to be able to put (the ball) on him."

Marquise Heard, starting in place of injured defensive end Sheldon Rankins filled in nicely for the All-State lineman. He recorded two sacks and along with Shaquille Huff, Antonius Sims and Blake Rouse and the rest of eastside's defense, held the Golden eagles out of the end zone for the second time this year.

"If I have to pick a defensive player of the week, it’s probably going to be Marquise," Hurst said. "He had great pressure in the backfield all night long. He made some tackles behind the line in the running game and I thought he played well.

"The thing about Marquise is he has the heart of a lion. He only weighs about 175 pounds but he’s strong and he’s quick and he has great speed off the edge."

The defense created three turnovers and held its opponent scoreless for the first time all year. Eagles Landing never really threatened to score outside of one big play that was called back after a holding penalty. Eastside held the Golden Eagles to 168 yards of total offense despite missing its best player Rankins.

"I don’t know if they had been shutout all year. They’ve been able to score on folks early but that’s our first shutout of the year so I’m proud of our guys," Hurst said.

Terrell quickly found a rhythm with Blackmon, Eastside’s leading receiver from a year ago. The two hooked up on the opening possession for a 21-yard pass and catch to set up the Eagles’ first score.

After Blackmon was forced out of bounds at the Eagles Landing one, Smith ran it in for Eastside’s opening score. Smith had 46 yards rushing for the game. Chavis Griggs led the Eagles in rushing with 66 yards while Terrell ran for 21.

Terrell and Blackmon kept it going on Eastside’s second possession. On the first play, the tandem connected for a 30-yard touchdown strike and the Eagles led 14-0 with 5:30 left in the first.

Blackmon and Terrell hooked up again on Eastside’s third scoring drive, this time for 43 yards to set the Eagles up at the Eagles Landing 10. Two plays later, Terrell found Chase Chancey in the flat for a 9-yard touchdown connection and the Eagles led 21-0.

Smith found the end zone again in the second quarter. After a short punt gave the Eagles the ball at the Golden Eagles' 36, Smith scampered 32 yards to paydirt and Cameron Boyd ran in the two-point conversion to give Eastside a commanding 29-0 lead heading into halftime.

"The thing that set the tone was for us to come out here and get a lot of points early and then kind of relax a little bit and cruise and play our game," Hurst said. "We threw in a couple of new formations that they hadn’t seen and they didn’t adjust to them very well. When they over adjusted, we were able to come back to it and break off some big runs."

Terrell and Blackmon weren’t done. After the two teams traded turnovers to open the second half, Terrell found a wide open Griggs inside the 10 to setup a 7-yard touchdown pass to Blackmon, his second of the game, and make it a 36-0 game.

"They (Eagles Landing) started creeping up and taking their chances on the running game and were able to get by them a couple of times in the passing game. I’m really pleased with Demario," Hurst said.

Despite a solid debut, Terrell fumbled the ball several times and lost it twice. He’ll look to shore that up this week before the Eagles travel to Henry County for a winner-take-all game to determine the final playoff seed out of the region.

"He has to fix his steps on the handoffs," Hurst said. "A couple of times he was stepping down too far and running into the back. We’ll fix that. That’s just a timing thing. But we can’t do those things next week against Henry. We can’t put it on the ground and gives those guys second chances."

Henry County defeated Drew 7-0 Friday and will be playing for the second seed in the state playoffs. But a loss could knock them out and put Eastside in for a fourth time in as many seasons.

If Eastside wins and Drew loses to Locust Grove, the three teams would finish at 5-3 in region play. Based on Georgia High School Association rules, Drew, despite beating the Eagles, would be the team to miss the playoffs based on records against Class AAA opponents. Drew is the only team of the three to play a Class AAA opponent outside of region play. They lost to Cairo in week one and would have a 5-4 overall record against 3A teams.

"We’re in a position to get in and that’s all you can ask when you go into the season," Hurst said. "You want to have a chance to get into game 11 and we have our chance. That’s what I Just told the kids. All we’re going to talk about this week is making that fourth straight (playoff) appearance. We have a good team that we’re going to play but I think we’re capable of going down there and wining that game."