DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — Eastside is heading back to the state quarterfinals for the second time in three years.
The second-seeded Eagles dominated all four quarters of a 37-7 thrashing of No. 1 seed New Manchester on the road Friday night. They improved to 10-2 and earned a spot in the third round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs, where they’ll travel to face No. 1 Jones County.
Their last trip to the quarterfinals came in 2018 as members of Class AAAA, when they rolled into the third round at 12-0.
Winning games is always nice, but winning in December carries a little extra weight to it. Eastside head coach Troy Hoff and his staff were thrilled to start the final month of the year off in the win column.
“When you get to the point where you’re in the Sweet 16, everybody’s a good football team,” Hoff said. “Hats off to coach [Cedric] Jackson and his staff at New Manchester. They’re building a class-act program and the kids are coached up well. For us to come on the road in the Sweet 16 and come out and play that way, I’m really proud of our kids and staff.”
Hosting No. 3 Southwest DeKalb at Sharp Stadium last week, Eastside was held off the scoreboard until time had expired in regulation. Against New Manchester, however, the Eagles found the end zone on two of their first three drives.
Hoff noted the confidence the quick start gave his offensive unit going forward.
“We felt like we left a lot on the table last week. It was against a good defense, but there were some self-inflicted things that we cleaned up this week,” Hoff said. “Our guys take a lot of pride in running the football and playing physical, and they responded [Friday.]”
After winning the opening coin toss and electing to defer to the second half, Eastside’s defense forced a turnover on downs on its own 22-yard line. The offense utilized the momentum, driving 78 yards and capping off the drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from senior Sincere Johnson.
3:48 Q1 | Eastside draws first blood. After forcing a turnover on downs, the Eagles drove 78 yards and punched it in on this 1-yard run from Sincere Johnson.— Mason Wittner (@mason_wittner) December 5, 2020
The Eagles lead 7-0. pic.twitter.com/TtxHWgnNVw
The Eagles’ third drive of the night also ended with points — this time coming on sophomore Kenai Grier’s 43-yard rushing score up the middle. Grier’s touchdown gave the Eagles a 14-0 advantage with 4:55 remaining in the second quarter.
Eastside put its foot on the pedal in the second half.
The Eagles’ opening drive of the third quarter saw them glide down field with ease. Grier took the ball to the house for the second time of the night, scoring from 12 yards out to give his club a 21-0 advantage with 9:27 to go.
9:27 Q3 | Eastside picks up right where it left off. This 12-yard TD run from Grier on the Eagles’ opening drive of the second half makes it 21-0. pic.twitter.com/S6eVIf74Z7— Mason Wittner (@mason_wittner) December 5, 2020
After a safety tacked two more points onto Eastside’s advantage, junior Dallas Johnson burst through a gap in the center of the defense and jetted his way to a 55-yard rushing touchdown.
The Eagles went into the fourth quarter holding a commanding 30-0 lead.
Dallas Johnson scored the game’s final points with 3:50 to go in the fourth quarter, breaking off a 56-yard rushing touchdown to seal the victory.
Eastside will travel to Gray, Ga., next week to square off against top-seeded Jones County. The Greyhounds, champions of Region 4, handed No. 2 Griffin a 34-13 loss on Friday to advance to the state quarterfinals.