COVINGTON - Eastside's running game slowly chipped away at Creekview's defense, gaining more yards each quarter and scoring three touchdowns on the ground for a 20-6 win in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
"My hat's off to them, they're a good football team," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "They came in here trying to take away our running game. They did a pretty good job of it until the fourth quarter."
"We just found something that they hadn't seen and we started taking advantage of it. We started with an inside-option play with (Broderick Alexander) and read the defensive end. He was coming hard all night, and we started cutting hard underneath getting to their linebackers."
Eastside, ranked No. 9 in the state, gained 44 yards rushing in the first period, 47 in the second, 75 in the third and 114 in the fourth.
Just as the Eagles increased yardage each quarter, so did Alexander.
He had four in the first, 12 in the second, 28 in the third and 74 in the fourth to lead the Eagles' running game with 118 yards on 14 carries.
But it wasn't all fun for the Eagles. First quarter penalties hurt Eastside with four flags, including one that moved them from a third and 1 on the 28 to third and 6, later forcing a punt.
"They were stupid mistakes," Hurst said. "It was the first time we've done those in a while. Their guys were moving around and our guys were flinching. We practiced it all week long. We didn't do a good job in that area."
With less than 90 seconds to go in the second quarter, the Eagles put themselves in a jam with another motion penalty to make it second and goal from the 10.
The Grizzlies took the pass away from Justin Wray, but the Eastside quarterback, who had 94 yards on 13 carries, was able to twist, turn and pound his way for an Eagles touchdown with 51 seconds left in the half.
Eastside's defense was phenomenal in the first half.
Not only did it hold an offense that scored 276 points in its last six games to 13 yards, it also forced them to go three and out in their four possessions.
Creekview started the second half with some momentum, getting its first first down of the game.
The Grizzlies almost had the chance of the game when Eastside fumbled on a punt. However, the Eagles were able to recover the ball on their 7-yard line.
The Eagles offense was able to move the ball very nearly at will until a holding penalty put them at second and 17.
They were unable to overcome the long yardage, giving the Grizzlies the ball back.
Creekview took advantage of Eastside's fumbles and penalties when Collins Wold connected with Jake Barclay on a 69-yard touchdown pass with 10:45 left in the game.
Eastside kept the Grizzlies from taking the lead by blocking Creekview's PAT.
"My hat's off to this class. We could've hung our heads right there when it was 6-6, but Karl (Williams) comes through and blocks the extra point, and we go right down the field," Hurst said. "The kids seeing him do that gave us an extra boost, and we responded well."
The Eagle offense responded to Williams' play by marching the ball 69 yards on seven plays.
Rashad Hill gave the Eagles the eventual game-winning score with a 22-yard run with 7:51 left to play.
"Rashad Hill was hobbled by injuries all year, but he played his butt off tonight. We keep feeding the guy who's hot and he wanted the ball. He's been so disappointed that he couldn't be more of a help all year long," Hurst said.
The Grizzlies thought that since they burned the Eagles once on a deep pass they could do it again.
However, Antarius Terrell was there to intercept Wold's pass, ending the threat.
"The biggest part of the game was the interception. That's probably the best play I've seen made from a high school player," Hurst said. "That was an absolute great play by Antarius Terrell."
With less then a minute to play, Alexander put the game away with a 5-yard TD run.
The Eagles will be back at Homer Sharp Stadium this Friday, when they will play Carrollton in the second round of the playoffs.
The Trojans advanced to the next round by beating Washington 23-7.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.