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PREP FOOTBALL: Eastside escapes New Manchester with narrow victory to keep title hopes alive
Eastside Eagles 41, New Manchester Jaguars 35
Eastside running back Dallas Johnson (3) breaks loose for a long run against the Jaguars defense during the second quarter of the Eagles’ first-round state playoff game at New Manchester on Friday. The Eagles were able to outlast the Jaguars 41-35 to advance to the second round. - photo by Anthony Banks | The Covington News

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — After watching its early 21-0 lead vanish, the Eastside Eagles ultimately topped the New Manchester Jaguars 41-35 on Friday night. 

Down the stretch, the contest became a back-and-forth shootout — Eastside would score and New Manchester would respond. On and on it went for the majority of the second half. 

The difference in the game was time of possession. 

Eastside gradually scored on its drives whereas New Manchester scored rapidly. 

Evidence of that was on Eastside’s first drive of the game. 

With 5:51 remaining in the first quarter, Dallas Johnson scored from four yards out to give Eastside a 7-0 lead. 

Johnson’s score capped off a 12-play, 70-yard drive that lasted 4:09. 

Later in the fourth quarter, the Eagles forced a turnover on downs to give possession back to their offense around midfield. That was with 10:06 remaining in the game. 

Rodney Williams came out and connected on a 21-yard field goal attempt with 4:37 left. Williams’ field goal provided Eastside with a 41-21 lead. 

So, even though Eastside only scored three points on the ensuing drive, it did burn a lot of time off the clock. 

In addition to time of possession, another difference maker for the Eagles was the defense’s ability to force three turnovers, two of which yielded points. 

One of the fumbles turned into a scoop and score by Jayden Barr on the Jaguars’ first drive of the game. 

New Manchester made a run at it in the closing minutes cutting the deficit down to six points, but the Jaguars simply ran out of time. 

Rico Jones scored from nine yards out to make the score 41-35 with only 24 seconds remaining. 

Eastside’s Kaden Elkins recovered New Manchester’s onside kick attempt, and E’Sean Arnold took a knee to conclude the contest. 

Multiple people made contributions on offense. 

Dallas Johnson and Kenai Grier each scored two touchdowns and Williams went 2-for-3 on field goals connecting from 26 and 21 yards out. 

Advancing to the second round, Eastside will face the winner between Griffin and Jones County next Friday, Nov. 19.