COVINGTON, Ga. — Jaydon Fain has ice in the vein.
Eastside’s junior kicker drilled a 19-yard field goal as time expired to lift his Eagles to a 3-0 win over Southwest DeKalb at Sharp Stadium on Saturday night. The victory sent his club to the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
It was Fain’s second game-winner this season. He previously nailed a 36-yard field goal at the buzzer to take down rival Alcovy in September. Called on to be clutch once again, what was on Fain’s mind as he lined up on the left hash for the field goal attempt?
“I was just thinking about all my seniors,” Fain said. “I didn’t want them to be done yet, so I wanted to put them through to the second round of the playoffs.”
FINAL | Eastside 3, Southwest DeKalb 0— Mason Wittner (@mason_wittner) November 29, 2020
Junior Jaydon Fain drilled the game-winning 19-yard field goal as time expired. The Eagles advance in an absolute slugfest. pic.twitter.com/PrFYZTEF4Q
Eastside’s defense and special teams played pivotal roles in the club going 8-2 and earning a No. 2 seed in the postseason. Fittingly, it was those two units that ultimately came through against third-seeded Southwest DeKalb.
“Our defense was lights out,” Eastside head coach Troy Hoff said. “They don’t score, they can’t win. Our guys take a lot of pride in that.”
The Eagles pitched a shutout for the third time in their past four games. They’ve now allowed just 10 points over a five-game stretch since surrendering 35 points in a narrow loss at Region 8 champion Clarke Central.
Eastside’s defensive unit was dominant for four quarters, but perhaps their most important stop of the night came with just over six minutes left in regulation.
Deep inside Eastside territory and driving, the Panthers moved into the red zone on a defensive pass interference call. Four plays later, facing a fourth down on the 11-yard line, sophomore quarterback Sabian Campbell took off toward the left sideline as the pocket collapsed around him. Campbell slipped inside the 5-yard line before a hit from Eastside junior Montarious Reed jarred the ball loose, leading to an Eagles’ recovery.
The sequence was critical because it not only kept Southwest DeKalb off the board, but also marked the last time the Panthers would advance past midfield.
6:28 Q4 | Eastside’s defense comes up HUGE!— Mason Wittner (@mason_wittner) November 29, 2020
The Eagles force a fumble inside the 5-yard line to put an end to Southwest DeKalb’s scoring threat. Two goose eggs remain on the scoreboard. pic.twitter.com/k5yqJRVnVv
Eastside later forced a punt, setting the Eagles up on their own 33-yard line with 1:46 to go. They proceeded to chip away with the ground attack, bleeding the clock while inching their way toward the red zone.
Eastside spent its final timeout with 0:02 left and the ball on the seven-yard line. Fain then appeared to nail a 24-yard field goal, but an offsides penalty blew the play dead before the ball was snapped. Following another offsides penalty and pair of Southwest DeKalb timeouts, Fain trotted back out onto the field to attempt the kick from 19 yards out.
And his leg kept his team’s season alive.
The Eagles and Panthers combined for five punts in the first quarter Saturday night.
Southwest DeKalb took over on its own 11-yard line with four ticks of the clock remaining in opening period. The club proceeded to grind its way down field, chewing up clock in the process as it drained more than 7 minutes of game time during the drive. It proved to be all for naught, however, as the Panthers threw an interception at the goal line.
A pair of Eastside punts bookended another Southwest DeKalb turnover to send the teams into the locker room locked in a scoreless draw.
Eastside will travel to top-seeded New Manchester next week for a second-round matchup. The Jaguars outlasted No. 4 Hiram, 21-17, in the opening round Friday night.