For three-and-a-half quarters, Creekview kept Eastside’s vaunted running game in check. But Rashad Hill’s 22-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter put the Eagles up 13-6 and they never looked back as they defeated the Grizzlies 20-6 to earn the school’s first playoff victory in 11 years.
Justin Wray threw for 140 yards and rushed for another 92, including a touchdown, and Broderick Alexander chugged his way to 112 yards on the ground as Eastside wore down Creekview’s defense in the second half.
"My hat’s off to them, that’s a good football team over there," Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. "They play hard and are very well-coached. They came in here tonight and took away the running game and they did a pretty good job there until the fourth quarter."
The Eagles capitalized on the only turnover of the game, an interception by Antarius Terrell in the fourth quarter, with an 11-play, 70-yard drive and Alexander scored from 5 yards out to seal the win in the final minute of the game.
The Eagles were in a battle from the get go. A bevy of penalties and a stingy Creekview defense kept the Eagles out of the end zone for much of the first half.
Eastside didn’t help itself to start the game. The Eagles moved the ball effectively on each of its first three possessions, but penalties made it tough to sustain drives.
"It was just stupid mistakes – the first time we’ve done those in a while," Hurst said. "[Creekview] was moving around on us and we practiced on it all week long – it’s not something we haven’t seen, but we just didn’t do a good job in that area."
On its second drive, Justin Wray hit Zach Johnston for a 13-yard gain on second-and-long, but a false start backed the Eagles up 5 yards and the Eagles were unable to pick up the first down.
Eastside nearly scored on its third drive, but the Grizzles stopped Wray 2 yards short of the goal line and Eastside turned the ball over on downs.
The Eagles defense kept Creekview in check throughout the first half. The Grizzlies didn’t pick up a first down during the half and the Eagles won the field position battle even though they were unable to capitalize on short fields.
The Eagles finally found the end zone right before halftime. On second down, Wray scrambled 10 yards for the score and Eastside led 6-0 with 51 seconds until halftime. The Eagles missed the PAT and led 6-0 at halftime.
The Eagles put together a long drive on their first possession of the second half, but Yanrick Tinker missed a 42-yard field goal right and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs again.
Creekview finally broke Eastside’s defense down early in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies moved the ball better in the third quarter and Collins Wold hit Jake Barclay for a 69-yard touchdown with 10:45 left in the game and just like that, the game was tied.
"I told them at halftime, six wasn’t going to be enough," Hurst said. "That kid [Wold] throws the ball very well and you can’t ever count them out. We got sucked up a couple of times and he puts it on the money.
"But I didn’t panic. I told the coaches not to panic. I thought we were fine and that we would find something that would work and we’d put it back in the end zone."
When it looked like Creekview would capture the momentum, Karl Williams blocked the PAT and the Eagles jumped off the field, ready to go back on offense.
"That was a huge lift," Hurst said. "It looked like we kind of got down a little bit and to see him do that, it just gave us an instant boost and we came down and responded well."
William’s wasn’t the only Eagle making big plays. Johnston saved a sure touchdown when he was able to get a fingertip on a deep pass in the fourth quarter and Hurst said no play was bigger than Terrell’s interception.
"Probably the biggest play was the interception," Hurst said. "That’s one of the best plays I’ve seen made by a high school player ever. That was an absolute great play. Tee [Terrell] is good on both sides of the ball. He’s probably our MVP, playing both ways with the way he’s played all year long."
On the play, Wold tried to hit another big passing play. But Terrell played the ball like a wide receiver and snatched the pass out of the air to give Eastside the ball back on its 30-yard line.
Eastside made adjustments at halftime and moved the ball more effectively in the air and the ground. Instead of picking up two and three yards, the Eagle backs started breaking off longer runs until they eventually wore down Creekview’s defensive front.
"Well we just came out and we started with a little bit of an inside option with B.A. [Alexander] and we would read the defensive end," Hurst said. "The defensive end was coming up hard all night and he [Alexander] started cutting it back up underneath and we got in the secondary."
Wray completed several big passes including a 24-yard strike to Andrico Bailey to pick up a key first down on Eastside’s go-ahead drive. Bailey finished with 68 receiving yards on five catches.
Git Aiken shared the load in the first half, but Hurst decided to go with Hill in the second half to mix it up. The move paid off and Hill’s 22-yard touchdown with 7:51 remaining in the game restored order and proved to be the game winner.
"Big props to Rashad [Hill]. He’s been out all year and been hobbled by injuries but man he played his but off tonight," Hurst said. "He wanted the ball tonight. He’s been so disappointed that he couldn’t be more of a help this year, but you can see what he can do if he’s healthy. He’s a tough little joker. He’s quick as a cat. I’m really happy for him."
The Eagles play Carrolton, which defeated Washington 23-7, Friday at Sharp Stadium.