Eastside nearly took down the No. 1 team in the state Saturday. Unfortunately for the Eagles, nearly doesn't mean a thing.
After dominating the game for three quarters and leading 10-0 heading to the fourth, Eastside watch Sandy Creek quarterback Cole Garvin lead the Patriots to a 13-10 win with the winning touchdown coming on a 76-yard touchdown strike to JaQuay Williams with 58 second left.
Sandy Creek (6-0, 4-0 Region 4-AAA) came into the game riding a 33-game winning streak. The Eagles nearly sent them home with their first loss in more than two years. But Eastside was unable to capitalize on three first-half turnovers inside the Patriots' 30-yard line and let them off the hook four times to setup Garvin's heroics.
Eastside stopped the Patriots with just over four minutes to play and tried to run the clock down. With Sandy Creek out of timeouts, the Eagles needed just one first down to ice the game. Instead they went four-and-out and left Garvin 1:11 in the game. As it turned out, he only needed a second.
On the first play, Garvin sat in the pocket before delivering a 30-yard strike to Williams across the middle in full stride. Already level with the safety, Wiggins turned on the afterburners and took it the rest of the way for the score.
Sandy Creek missed the extra point to give Eastside hope. But Cameron Boyd threw a floater that was picked off on the Eagles' first play by Shaquille Wiggins.
Eastside's defense did its part. The Eagles picked off Garvin twice in the first half and recovered two fumbles – one on a punt. But Colton Smith missed two short field goals and the Eagles only managed a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Eastside finally broke through early in the second half. Bryant Johnson's 27-yard run followed by Boyd's 14-yard scamper moved the ball inside the Patriots' two and Chavis Griggs pounded it in two plays later to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead and more importantly, make it a two-possession game.
After not picking up a first down until midway through the third quarter, Sandy Creek finally made adjustments on offense, going to the shotgun and essentially abandoning the running game which was ineffective all night. The adjustment paid off as it gave Garvin more time to throw.
The Patriots finally found a rhythm and Garvin surgically picked apart Eastside's secondary on their first drive of the fourth quarter. He capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it a 10-7 game.
Eastside found moving the ball just as tough but unlike the Patriots, were unable to turn to the passing game for help. Instead the Eagles banked on Griggs and the running game to keep the ball away from Sandy Creek but the Patriots' defense was equally strong.