Eastside topped rival Alcovy 38-15 to open the season Friday at Sharp Stadium but the win came at a price.
The Eagles lost starting running back Alex Smith to a wrist injury on their opening offensive play and the junior All-Region back could miss the rest of the regular season depending on the diagnosis.
"It doesn't look good. It looks like it could be a complete break," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "I just hate it for the kid. He's worked so hard and had a good offseason, but things like that happen. It's just part of the game."
Chavis Griggs picked up the slack as he rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns to lead all ball carriers. Griggs had touchdown runs of 18 and 12 yards in the first half to help the Eagles build a 21-8 halftime lead.
"That was a great night for him (Griggs), and really good to see a guy who isn't the feature back, come in and have a game like this," Hurst said. "We knew he had it in him. He ran so hard and I'm proud of the way he hit the holes and kept his knees up."
Mistakes hurt Alcovy. Eastside capitalized on a muffed snap on a punt to score the opening touchdown off a 13-yard pass from Cameron Boyd to Blake Rouse then cashed in again after a 10-yard punt gave them the ball at the 18-yard line to setup Griggs' first score.
The Tigers had a chance to possibly tie the game or take the lead in the second quarter after a Kenard Murray interception but had a field goal blocked after the drive stalled. Alcovy also fumbled deep in its own territory in the third quarter and Marcus Griffieth scooped up the loose ball at the 9-yard line and took it in for a touchdown.
"In the first quarter we had them in a hole but our penalties bailed them out and you can't do that against a good football team," Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman said. "We had a chance to score and maybe go up in the game but we get the blocked field goal and then the fumble and you just can't have those things. We're young and I think that showed tonight."
Nick Broadwater also had a solid game rushing the ball. He ran for 73 yards on nine carries, filling in for Eastside's other injured running back Jomandi Smith.
"To be a freshman, he played physical," Hurst said. "He needs to learn the speed of the game but he almost broke a couple of runs. He has good speed and if gets on the edge, he's going to be hard to bring down."
On the opening score, the Eagles initially took over at the Alcovy 3-yard line before two penalties backed them up to the 13. On the first play of the drive, Boyd rolled right then threw across his body to Rouse in the end zone to put Eastside up 7-0. Boyd completed nine passes on 15 attempts for 91 yards and was intercepted once in his debut as the starter. He also ran it three times for 31 yards including a 13-yard touchdown off a scramble.
"Cameron played well. He did exactly what we wanted him to do," Hurst said. "On the pick, he saw the safety coming down and he told me he shouldn't have thrown it. He learned his lesson. And the kid can run. He has speed and when he gets out, he can make plays. It adds another dimension for us."
After Griggs' touchdown run put the Eagles up 14-0, Devon Edwards ran the kickoff back 91 yards for a score, then caught Eastside napping on the extra point attempt when he took a direct snap in for a 2-point conversion.
Edwards was also Alcovy's most effective offensive player. He rushed for a team-high 55 yards on 17 carries. Edwards saw the bulk of the carries after Tre Sorrells exited in the first quarter after twisting an ankle. Sorrells finished with 10 yards on five carries.
"I tell you what, I think Devon showed that he's a player," Hoffman said. "He's a weapon and that's why colleges are looking at him. He has some speed and not only did he play well offensively, I thought he had a great game at cornerback."
After Edwards' kick return, the Tigers looked poised to draw even. Murray picked off Boyd on the Eagles' second play of the ensuing drive to set Alcovy up at the Eastside 23. The Tigers moved the ball down to the 10 to setup a first-and-goal opportunity. A fumble and two running plays that netted one yard relegated the Tigers to a field goal attempt that was blocked and returned to midfield.
Eastside cashed in again. After being hit at the line, Griggs bounced outside from 12 yards out to cap a 9-play drive and put the Eagles up 21-8.
"He (Griggs) was letting things develop and he's tough. I think he fell forward on every single run tonight.," Hurst said. "He showed tonight he can be a feature back."
Alcovy scored on its opening possession of the second half to cut Eastside's lead to 21-15. But that's as close as the Tigers would get. The Eagles came right back and scored on their ensuing drive to push their lead back to 13.
"I told the kids I thought it could have been a little closer. We had those couple of mistakes and if we make a couple of plays here or there, we're right there," Hoffman said. "I thought we put together a good drive coming out at halftime and you start thinking, maybe we are starting to gel. But they went down and scored on a play where it looked like we had the quarterback sacked and then we had the fumble and that hurt."
Eastside's defense limited Alcovy's passing attack to a single yard on one reception. With starter Cornell White in street clothes for team reasons, Marcus Williams got the start under center but was ineffective in the passing game. His lone reception was to Edwards for two yards.
Williams did rush for a touchdown when he capped Alcovy's 13-play drive opening the third with a 2-yard run.
"The defense played well," Hurst said. "We have to fix some things. Our defensive line was getting too far upfield and that hurt us a bit tonight. But I think once we fix that, we'll be OK. And our punt defense played well. We are going to pressure the line all season and you see what that did for us."