WINDER, Ga. — The Eagles’ run game proved to be too much for Winder-Barrow to contain Friday night as Eastside ran all over the Bulldogs to start their 2020 season, winning by a score of 27-14.
Going into the 2020 season, it was planned for Jaylen Woods to take over as starting quarterback for the Eagles. After an injury ruling him out for the season opener, fellow senior Dayton Green would move from wide receiver to quarterback, and it was clear that the Eagles would have to rely on the run game to put them ahead.
“[Green] did a good job tonight [playing quarterback],” Hoff said. “We had to obviously change who we are as an offense and get him comfortable in a short amount of time, he did a great job running the offense tonight”
The Eagles would receive the ball in their first drive of the season head coach Troy Hoff wasted no time showing how well Eastside could run the ball.
After good runs to start the game, the Eagles were held and were forced to settle for a 39-yard field goal from junior Jaydon Fain to go up early 3-0.
After holding the Bulldogs to their second straight punt, senior defensive lineman Kevin Napier got into the backfield and blocked the punt, putting the Eagles at the Bulldogs two-yard line. Eastside would quickly capitalize with senior Sincere Johnson barreling into the endzone to extend the lead to 10-0.
The Eagles defense would once again make the stop, forcing another Bulldogs punt. On the first snap of the drive, S. Johnson would take the carry outside and race down the sideline for a 73-yard touchdown run, extending the Eastside lead to 17-0 near the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles would have another chance in Bulldogs territory; however, Winder-barrow made the stop and would force the Eastside field goal. Fain would connect again for a 44-yard field goal to extend the Eagles lead to 20-0 going into halftime.
Going into halftime, it was clear the Eagles were determined to shut down the Bulldogs by running the ball, and the combination of Sincere Johnson and Dallas Johnson were making it a reality.
“[Dallas and Sincere] were carrying the load, they did a great job tonight,” Hoff said. “We knew we were going to be a run heavy offense tonight and those guys love running behind their pads and coming downhill.”
Coming out of halftime, the Eagles would not have as easy of a time stopping the Bulldogs’ offense as they did in the first half.
On the first play of the third quarter, Winder-Barrow quarterback Trevor Summerfield would connect with Stewart Allen on the 74-yard touchdown pass to put the Bulldogs on the board 20-7.
After a quick three and out from Eastside, Winder-Barrow would strike big again with a 53-yard touchdown run from JC Green to make it a one score game at 20-14.
After getting a much-needed stop on defense, the Eagles would get the answer they were hoping for as D. Johnson would take the handoff outside and shed multiple tackles on a 60-yard touchdown run to put Eastside ahead further by a score of 27-14.
After a defensive pass interference call on Eastside that put the Bulldogs in good field position around midfield, junior defensive back Nick Benton would pick off Summerfield to give the Eagles the ball back with less than five minutes left in regulation.
With just over a minute left in regulation, sophomore Saabir Berrian would pick off Summerfield to put the dagger in the Eagles opening game of season, winning by a score of 27-14.
“We knew [Winder-Barrow] had some guys that can go, they caught us on a couple plays, but overall I was happy with [the defense in the] first half,” Hoff said. “In the third quarter we dug a hole for ourselves and they took advantage of it with good field position, but we came back in the fourth quarter and played football.”
It was clear the ground game was the key for the Eagles in getting win one in the first game of the season.
S. Johnson finished the game with 187 yards on 24 carries, rushing for two touchdowns. His counterpart in the backfield, D. Johnson, rushed for 216 yards on 23 carries, and getting into the endzone once.
After a showcase game on the ground for the Eagles, they plan to take their momentum back home as they play county rival Newton next Friday, Sept. 18.