COVINGTON -- Eastside's football team narrowly escaped as they almost gave up a 20-point margin at Homer Sharp Stadium on Friday. However, the were able to hold off Lanier for the 20-14 win.
"We're lucky to come out of it. We played great the first half. I thought our kids played real well. We just didn't play well in the second half," Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. "We're happy for the win but not the way we played."
The Eagles (4-2 overall, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA) defense dominated Lanier (3-3, 1-2) in the first half as it did not give up a first down until the second quarter. The defense allowed 39 yards of offense in the first half with 39 yards coming on one possession.
The Longhorns were forced to go three-and-out in their first three possessions before Lanier quarterback Taylor Grant and running back Tario Fuller got them moving in the right direction. But all that came to an end when Eastside's James Russell sacked Grant for a 13-yard loss making it third and 24 on the Lanier 43-yard line forcing the Longhorns to punt once again.
Of Lanier's 19-first half plays, seven resulted in 31 yards of negative yardage.
"We've got a young football team and it's our first year of region play. What we've tried to do in the second half is get back to our fundamentals. When we do that we improve as a football team. That's what we talked about at halftime, that's what our kids came out and did," Longhorns head coach Bill Wells said. "We're real proud of them in the second half. But we've got to rely on our fundamentals in the first half also."
Offensively, the Eagles gained 181 of offense in the first half scoring 17-unanswered points. Alex Smith, who gained 81 yards on 15 carries, scored Eastside's first touchdown on a four-yard run early in the second quarter to make it 10-0 after Colton Smith hit a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter to give the Eagles the lead.
After a 35-yard touchdown run by Alex Smith was called back for holding, the Eagles put the points back on the board on a 35-yard pass to Cameron Boyd from Damario Terrell.
Terrell went 16-for-23 throwing for 187 yards with Boyd being his main target getting six catches for 106 yards. Alex Smith also had six catches adding 58 yards to his total offensive output.
The Longhorns found a weakness in the Eagles defense late in the games as they were able to get complete a few passes. Grant, who completed 14 passes on 22 attempts for 267 yards, found Brandon Ramos who caught a 53-yard touchdown pass late early in the fourth period. Grant's second long pass play came late in the game when poor tacking allowed Marty Sanders to score on a 96-yard play off a two-yard throw to make it 20-14 with less than four minutes left to play.
"They gave us some things we really hadn't seen. They had the bye week and utilized it to their advantage, both offensively and defensively. After the first two series, we made some adjustments as to what we thought we could do," Wells said.
On two occasions, the Eastside offense failed to put points on the board while sitting inside the Longhorns 10-yard line. The first resulted in Sanders touchdown. The Longhorns were moving the ball the second time but ran out of time giving Eastside the win.
"You have give them credit. I told out kids that they're not intimidated. If you give them a chance to believe in themselves that's what could happen. I think they have some 50-something sophomores on that team," Hurst said. "They're real young but they gave us all we wanted at the end."