COVINGTON - If first-game jitters bothered the Eastside Eagles, they didn't let it show as they easily defeated the Harris County Tigers 28-0 on Thursday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
"I didn't know how they were going to come out, but they executed at the highest level we've executed for the first game in a long time," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "I'm really proud of my seniors and my coaching staff. We've got an experienced group of guys. They've played a lot of football since their sophomore year, so they know how to get themselves ready. We came out here ready to play."
The Eagles passed the ball well as quarterback Justin Wray went 8-for-8 passing in the first half for 78 yards. Wray finished the game with 121 passing yards in three quarters. He did not have any attempts in the fourth quarter.
Although the Eagles played well, they were still not perfect as they lost two fumbles, including one in the end zone.
"We put the ball on the ground and that hurt us, but we cost them some turnovers, too," Hurst said. "They (our players) ran around like I wanted them to. They surpassed what I was anticipating."
Broderick Alexander and Tony Atwater paced the Eagles' rushing game with 70 and 52 yards.
Eastside's passing game was led by Andrico Bailey, who had 53 yards on three catches, while Antarius Terrell and Zack Johnston had 19 yards each.
Before the game started, Hurst had concerns with his offensive line. However, after watching them battle, a lot of his worries started to dissipate.
"We did some good things up there. But we kind of relaxed in the third quarter and gave up a couple of things," Hurst said. "As long as we keep getting better week by week, we'll be fine."
After a 44-yard kickoff return by Git Aiken to start the game, the Eagles took the ball into the end zone with Alexander capping off a 9-play, 45-yard drive with 7:09 remaining in the first quarter.
The Eagles' defense gave the ball to their offense on the Tigers' 28-yard line following a fumble recovery by Hunter Parker.
Wray found Tradarius Maddox in the end zone six plays later for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles started the third quarter by recovering a fumble and moving the ball 62 yards in six plays to make it 21-0.
Highlighting the touchdown drive was a 30-yard completion from Wray to Bailey and a 15-yard Wray run for the score with 5:20 left.
"He (Wray) bruised his thigh a little bit," Hurst said. "We didn't call his number too much. We didn't want to chance it. But you saw what he could do when he wanted to. He lulled them to sleep a little bit then he took off and got him one. I'm real proud of him."
The Tigers, feeling desperate down 21-0, tried a fake punt on a fourth-and-16 from their 14 only to have it fail, giving the Eagles the ball.
However, Eastside returned the favor and gave the ball back two plays later.
Greg Griffeth tacked on Eastside's final touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.