COVINGTON -- The Eagles proved that they are ready to take on No. 1-ranked Sandy Creek in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs with a stunning 35-0 defeat over No. 4-ranked Monroe Area on Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
It was apparent that the Eagles (7-3 overall, 5-2 Region 8-AAAA) gained confidence as the game went on. Of Monroe Area's (9-1, 6-1) 13 drives, Eastside's defense forced the punt after three plays three times, got the ball on downs twice, and ended drives because of turnovers four times.
Eastside's defense held the Purple Hurricanes to seven first downs and 180 yards of total offense.
"I asked them before the game to give us a short field, create some turnovers and you'll never know what can happen. My guys came out here and did it," Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. "I'm so proud of our staff and our kids. All the stuff that's gone on the last couple of weeks with the injuries and we just keep playing; we keep fighting."
The Eagles' first break came when a swarming special team jumped on the punter after a bad snap. It took Alex Smith (8 57, two touchdowns) one play to send shockwaves through the stands, scoring on a 12-yard run early in the second half.
Eastside had another chance to score after Antonius Sims picked up a fumble on the Hurricanes 37-yard line. Unfortunately, the drive ended with an Eastside turnover, giving Monroe Area hope. But that hope was quickly taken away when Tre Cooper intercepted the ball, returning it 43 yards to give the offense the ball inside the 1-yard line. Jomandi Smith crossed the goal line on the first play from scrimmage.
The Eagles weren't finished yet. After getting another short field. Alex Smith had an 11-yard run followed by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Demario Terrell to Napolean Johnson with less than a minute to play. Terrell, who had three of his passes dropped by open receivers, was 3-for-9 for 99 yards with Alex Smith catching two passes for 80 yards.
If Monroe Area had thoughts of coming out and making adjustments after halftime, those thoughts quickly went out of their minds as Jamal Hardge returned the kickoff 97 yards.
"Hardge had a great game, Cooper had a great game, it was everybody. Demario made some good throws, Alex came in after the first quarter and gave us some big plays and showed what he's capable of doing. It was fun to watch."
Although the Hurricanes were down 35-0 following a 6-yard run by Alex Smith, they did not want to go home without points. They drove the ball 46 yards in eight plays, gaining four first downs. But Eastside's defense was not going to let that happen as Landon Moore intercepted the ball on the 6-yard line to preserve the shutout.
"I told them in the huddle, seniors especially, that this is one they'll never forget," Hurst said. "That's a good football team we just beat."