Eastside soars past Oconee Co. 49-7
Eagles 'clicking up front' in blowout victory

COVINGTON - Chemistry on the offensive line helped Eastside to a 49-7 blowout over Oconee County on Saturday at Homer Sharp Stadium.

In fact, the Eagles (7-1 overall, 4-1 Region 8-AAA) made history on Senior Night by scoring a combined 99 points over a two-game stretch.

"Our whole offensive line did a great job," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "They're like a well-oiled machine right now playing with a lot of confidence."

Overall, Eastside limited Oconee (2-6, 2-3) to just 49 rushing yards on 33 carries.

The Eagles defense forced its first of three turnovers in the game during Oconee's first possession. After Oconee quarterback Zach Mettenberger hit Hutch Roper on a swing pass, Roper fumbled on the Oconee 21-yard line.

Four plays later, Eastside was on the scoreboard after a 2-yard run by quarterback Justin Wray with 8:35 left in the first quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 15-yard run by Git Aiken.

"It just came tonight and I guess it happened to be me," Aiken said. "To be honest, I woke up this morning actually kind of sick, (but) I said to myself I'm not letting this stop me from playing my game."

Aiken accounted for 110 of Eastside's 265 rushing yards.

"It's always fun to come out on a (Saturday) night and we were clicking up front," Eastside offensive lineman Jarrett Hubbard said. "We had a lot of (chemistry) going, but it's really easy when you have the type of athleticism we have in the backfield. All you have to do is make a crease and they're off to the races."

Hubbard played healthy for the first time since suffering a toe injury.

"You can see how much Hubbard came back and helped us," Hurst said. "Just having him out there is like having a different group."

Eastside struck again 1:26 into the second period. Antarius Terrell put the Eagles in scoring position after a 52-yard punt return, setting up on the Oconee 34-yard line.

Aiken scored three plays later on a 12-yard burst up the middle made possible by a block from Eastside offensive lineman Dalton Temple along the left sideline.

"This whole season has done a lot for our confidence," Temple said. "We've had a goal since January to win the state championship, and it's just one step at a time."

On their next possession, the Warriors continued to struggle offensively, leading to another punt to Terrell, who responded with a 35-yard return to the Oconee 32-yard line.

With 6:22 left until halftime, Aiken scored his second touchdown after a 14-yard run set up by a 20-yard pass from Wray to Tradarius Maddox.

The Eagles led 21-0 entering halftime.

In the first half, Oconee averaged just 3.22 yards per play, chalking up 74 total yards.

Four plays into the second half, defensive lineman Karl Williams and a host of Eagles sacked Mettenberger, shaking up the Georgia commitment. On the very next play he fumbled to Jacorey Maddox on the Oconee 31-yard line.

Overall, Williams had 4.5 sacks and forced three fumbles.

With 8:20 left in the third quarter, Eastside's Broderick Alexander scored on a 1-yard run to give the Eagles a 28-0 lead.

On the ensuing possession, Eastside's defense continued to hassle Mettenberger, forcing yet another fumble, this time on the Oconee 27-yard line.

Alexander reached the end zone for the second time on a 6-yard scamper. After the PAT, the Eagles led 35-0 with 6:11 left in the third frame.

Eastside scored again with 3:39 left, this time by aerial assault. After holding the Warriors to four-and-out, Wray launched a 45-yard strike to a wide-open Aiken to make it 42-0.

The Warriors found some daylight on its next possession after Mettenberger hit Scotty Woodall for a 70-yard touchdown pass. After the PAT by Bradley Bugg, Oconee trailed 42-7 with 2:17 left in the third.

One minute and 15 seconds later, Eastside had its 49th point of the night thanks to a 2-yard sprint by Tony Atwater and PAT by Yanrick Tinker.

Tinker was 7-of-7 on extra point attempts and averaged 48.7 yards on three punts.

"We practice hard and our coaching staff pushes us to the limit," Eastside offensive lineman James Johnson said. "Of course, credit the rest of the line, (but) if we didn't have those horses running back there it wouldn't be like it is now."

Special teams prevented Oconee County from ever starting with the ball in Eastside territory. Furthermore, the only time the Warriors made it past their own 24-yard line was on a failed fake punt on their own 48-yard line in the second quarter.

"I knew how ready we were Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Hurst said. "The guys have practiced the last two weeks with a lot of purpose and a lot of attitude. As long as we keep doing that we can continue doing this."

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.