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Alcovy wins its first county title
Tigers top Eagles in defensive battle

COVINGTON - Three interceptions, a fumble recovery and a stingy defense allowed Alcovy to get not only its first win over Eastside, it also gave the Tigers their first Newton County championship after beating the Eagles 3-0 on Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.

"What does it mean? I don't know," Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffmann said. "For the kids I know it means a lot. What a great ball game. I might go home and watch this one over and over just to see a great ball game."

Eastside let several first quarter scoring opportunities slip through its grasp, which would've given the Eagles a lead as their defense kept Alcovy from gaining steady momentum.

Following a 47-yard punt return by Git Aiken early in the first period, Eastside missed a 45-yard field goal attempt wide right.

On their next possession, the Eagles' JT Thorne put Eastside in scoring position again after a 50-yard reception on a Califf Carnes pass. However, the 30-yard field goal try was short.

Alcovy tried to put points on the board for Eastside with a 20-yard backward scramble ending with a safety, but a defensive holding call negated the play.

The Eagles again had a chance to score after recovering an Alcovy fumble on their 21-yard line. But once again they failed to convert by giving the ball back on the first play.

Eastside was able to keep the ball moving after a roughing the kicker call by Alcovy gave the Eagles the ball at midfield. It looked as if the Eagles were going to score this time, but Alcovy's John Hale hit Carnes as he released the ball, allowing Rod Tolen to intercept the ball on the Eastside 12-yard line.

"We thought we were pretty good back there," Hoffmann said of his secondary. "We knew we were going to do some stuff to try to confuse him ... I thought he had a good game. He gets in a streak and he's pretty good."

Eastside started the second half moving the ball at will, gaining 38 yards on six plays. However, two incomplete passes stopped the Eagles' drive.

The Tigers defense again stood to the challenge the next series when Cameron Fields intercepted Carnes' pass on the 27-yard line.

Alcovy got its first break of the game after stopping the Eagles from punting. With the ball on the Eastside 19, the Tigers moved the ball but settled for a 22-yard Kyle Vojtesak field goal with 11:05 left in the game.

"The key play was the punt before (the block)," Hoffmann said. "We punted it deep and regained some field position.

"What concerned us was that we started missing some tackles late. I told our guys that when you play a quality club like Eastside it was going to come down to the fourth quarter."

Eastside had a chance to win the game in its final drive as the Eagles moved the ball 39 yards in eight plays. Carnes had two receivers open in the end zone in the final minute of the game, but Gary Wilkins was able to get in front of the receiver, ending all hopes of a comeback.

"Mistakes killed us. You get that when you get a young quarterback who's trying to make things happen," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "Hat's off to Califf, a lot of the time is was pressure that was coming because we didn't do a good job blocking up front all night long. He made some mistakes, and he'll learn from them. He's tore up right now, but he'll be fine, I have all the confidence in the world in him."

Eastside's defense held the Tigers to 95 yards of total offense, 65 rushing and 30 passing.

The Eagles' offense rushed for 72 yards and threw for another 180.

"My hat's off to that whole side of the football," Hurst said. "It's funny because the defense practiced like that all week long, and the offense sputtered. I was worried on Wednesday and it showed. You play like you practice, and that's what happened.

"If those guys don't learn how to practice, there's going to be more games like these because we're going to play good defense all year. We have to learn over there (offense) the same way we practice on the defensive side of the ball."

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