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Eastside rallies for 36-22 win

ELBERTON - It's amazing what can happen in one minute.

Elbert County scored two touchdowns while Eastside tallied one in a 60-second span in the fourth quarter of Eastside's 36-22 victory Friday night at the Granite Bowl.

With the win, Eastside is now 1-0 in Region 8-AAA play and 4-0 overall.

"It was huge. It's like I told them before we came out, there's going to be four teams 1-0 and four teams 0-1. We want to be in that 1-0 category," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "You'll have to dig your way out of a hole if you're 0-1."

The Eagles came out establishing the run to start the game. In the first half, Eastside ran the ball 16 times while throwing it eight.

But no matter what the Eagles did, not only did they find success, they also found the end zone.

The only part of Eastside's game that was not solid was their kicking game as the Eagles missed field goal attempts from 25 and 39 yards.

After Git Aiken started things with a 48-yard kickoff return, he closed the deal with a 19-yard touchdown run in the first four minutes of the game.

After recovering a Blue Devil fumble on Elbert County's 45, Justin Wray found Kevin Agudo in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass with less than three minutes left in the opening period.

Wray finished the game with nine completions on 15 attempts with two interceptions for 102 yards. He also ran for 29 yards on seven carries.

Andrico Bailey led the Eastside receivers with four catches for 58 yards.

The one hiccup by Eastside's defense was costly as Elbert County's Ronnie Hughes ran for a 56-yard gain. Then with less then one minute left in the half, Hughes recovered a fumble from the Blue Devils' quarterback and ran it in the final 12 yards to make it 14-7.

After an almost-flawless first half, Eastside came out and sputtered in its first drive of the second half before throwing an interception.

"I went in at halftime and told them I wanted to see them focus on defense, and we did. We came out and stopped them, then our lack of focus shifted from the defense to the offense," Hurst said. "We're not putting 48 minutes together where we're focusing and playing football like we should."

Whatever was keeping Eastside's offense from moving the ball, the Eagles finally figured it out. Aiken finished off a 16-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:50 left in the game.

But the Blue Devils did not fade as they answered with Trez Haley's 92-yard kickoff return for a score. Following the 2-point conversion, Eastside's lead was 21-15.

Elbert County quickly took the lead for the first time in the game when D.J. Lewis returned an interception 40 yards to take a 22-21 lead.

However, Eastside was not done as Broderick Alexander sparked the Eagles comeback with a 53-yard touchdown run with 6:16 left in the game.

Tinker helped put the game away with a kickoff inside the 1-yard line that Eastside almost recovered.

After stopping Elbert County on a fake punt at the 10, Broderick Alexander scored to put the Eagles ahead 36-22 with four minutes left to play.

Alexander led the Eagles on the ground with 14 carries for 129 yards.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.