COVINGTON - It seems like Eastside's football team got any problems it had worked out to start Region 8-AAA play with a 25-7 win over Elbert County on Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
The Eagles' ground attack was led by Git Aiken, who ran for 210 yards in 26 carries, scoring twice on 18-yard runs.
"I'd like to thank my offensive line. Without them I wouldn't of been able to run like that," Aiken said. "All week we've been talking about pushing back the defensive line. We pressured them real hard and they stepped their game up. Shout out to my offensive line."
Of course Aiken wasn't the only one in the backfield making things happen. Greg Griffieth touched the ball 19 times, rushing for 123 yards and scoring Eastside's first touchdown.
"I've got to thank my offensive line for pushing them downfield. There was nobody there for four or five yards," Griffieth said. "I made good cuts and got up in there. It builds the team confidence. Maybe we can come back next week even better. It's time to crank it up."
"I'm really proud of our guys, proud of our offensive line and the job they did tonight. Our backs ran extremely well," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "It's hard to key on one when they both run like that. I know they feel real good about themselves and I'm real proud of their effort."
Even though Eastside won and it was confident and pumped, the game didn't start that way. While Eastside was able to move the ball, Aiken rushed for 116 yards on nine carries, it stopped itself in its first two drives with a fumble and an interception.
The two turnovers gave the Blue Devils the ball on Eastside's 31 and 40. However, the Eastside defense was able to deny Elbert County of a touchdown. Even when it had the ball first and goal on Eastside's 8-yard line.
"Our defense has played well all year. (Elbert County) has been rushing for 300 yards a game but I don't think they had that many," Hurst said.
Elbert County came into Homer Sharp Stadium averaging 280 yards on the ground and 322 yards of total offense in its first three games.
Eastside's defense held it to 80 yards rushing and 26 in the air for a total of 106 yards.
"This team has their own identity now," Hurst said. "We spent weeks searching for that and I think we did a good job finding it. We made progress in some areas we were lacking."
Even after stopping the Blue Devils from scoring after the turnovers, Eastside again gave its opponent hope when Elbert County blocked a punt with less than 30 seconds left in the half giving them the ball on the Eastside 22.
Valdon Cooper caught a 10-yard pass from Robert Huff with 11 seconds left in the half to give Elbert County a 7-6 lead after the extra-point kick by Andy Corder.
"We challenged them. I told them that we're doing things we don't normally do. We're just shooting ourselves in the foot again. When are we going to stop? I think they finally got the message. If we eliminate the mistakes, I think we have a pretty good football team," Hurst said.
Eastside regained the lead with less than six minutes in the third quarter on an 18-yard jaunt by Aiken after Elbert County reconsidered going for it on fourth and inches from the Eastside 48.
The punt netted 12 yards giving the Eagles the ball on their 36.
The Eagles got their running game going as Aiken made it 19-6 following an 18-yard run with a Will Daniels kick.
Jerome Ivey scored the final points of the game on a 20-yard pass from Califf Carnes.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.