The Eastside Eagles and Newton Rams battled it out Friday night at Homer Sharp Stadium in a football game that ended with no one losing. Or winning, for that matter. After 48 minutes of tough football, the game ended in a 41-41 tie.
All 82 points were scored throughout the first three quarters, with neither team able to find the end zone after a touchdown run by Eastside’s Josh Sims with 7.7 seconds left in the third.
The Eagles not only ended the scoring, but also started it when a Billy Love field goal gave the Eagles a quick 3-0 lead. The Rams, however, quickly answered with a Roderick Kirkland touchdown with 10:19 left in the first quarter to go up 8-3 after Jeremiah Holloman completed the two-point conversion.
Eastside failed to convert on the next possession, and Newton took over before a fumble by Kirkland gave the Eagles back the ball. The Eagles capitalized, as quarterback Austin Holloway’s pass to Caleb Allen gave them the 10-8 edge.
Eastside scored two more touchdowns to go up 24-8, giving the Eagles their largest lead of the night at the 11:44 mark in the second quarter after a score by Sims, but Newton answered right back on the very next play to move back within 10.
The back and forth continued between the two teams for most of the night, as the game tied 27-27 after a touchdown pass from Newton’s Myron Middlebrooks to Tyrese Peacock 9:10 left to go in the third.
Newton had four major turnovers in the game, with three alone coming in the first half and one at the goal line. But it was Eastside’s first turnover that proved to be a huge difference maker. Quickly after Eastside’s fourth touchdown that put the Eagles up 34-27, Newton’s Elija Godwin returned the Eagles’ kick 95 yards for a touchdown to tie the game yet again. When it came time for Newton to kick it back, the Eagles turned the ball back over to the Rams. Newton’s Dante Johnson fumbled the ball on the first play, but the ball was recovered Peacock, who then ran it into the end zone for a 41-34 Newton lead.
“Defense did a good job of getting the ball back,” Eastside coach Troy Hoff said. “There were times we gave up chunks of yards, and it’s like we said. They have some good players who can threaten you every time the ball snaps, but for the most part we did a good job. Any time you can create turnovers on defense, that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Newton had several mishaps in the game, highlighted by plenty of penalties and missed field goals, including the potential game winner with 17 seconds left in the game.
“We have to get better,” said Newton coach Terrance Banks. “We have a lot to improve on. Eastside is a very good football team. We need the bye week bad. The thing I said we couldn’t do: turnovers and penalties, and we made both a lot. We have to be a lot cleaner than that.”
Eastside’s Sims ended the game with 175 yards and three touchdowns, while Holloway ended with five touchdowns. Senior Cameron Gaither came away with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Newton’s Kirkland had eight carries and one touchdown, while Peacock notched two receiving touchdowns. Holloman ended the game with six catches, including one for a 67-yard touchdown.
“There’s a lot of things we need to work on,” Hoff said. “It was a great game and an awesome test for us. [They’re a] AAAAAAA school, and they’re picked to do some things and they have a lot of talent. For us to play a game like this early in the season, it’s going to help us a lot.”
While Newton has a bye week next week, the Eagles will return to Sharp Stadium to face the Alcovy Tigers Friday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m.