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Eagles soar to win and clinch playoff spot

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COVINGTON -- Eastside found itself in unfamiliar territory to open the second half of their Homecoming game against visiting Walnut Grove territory -- its own territory.

The Eagles (6-2, 4-1 in region 8-AAAA) dominated the game from the opening play on their way to a 55-20 playoff-clinching victory. Eastside's final two games of the regular season will determine where it falls in the region as the team makes the journey to face Stephens County next Friday before closing out the regular season on Nov. 9 against Monroe Area. If there is to be a home playoff game in the Eagles' future, they must win their remaining games.

Eastside wasted little time in dashing the upset hopes of the Warriors (1-7, 0-5). On the second play from scrimmage, Tre Cooper stepped in front of a quick out and secured the Eagles' first defensive points of the night on a 10-yard interception return. For Walnut Grove, it was the beginning of a night full of miscues created by an opportunistic defensive effort from the host team.Through the first three quarters, Eastside's defense allowed only 83 yards total offense, with 53 yards coming on a single Warriors dash up the middle. Walnut Grove was only able to gain 21 yards of offense in the first half. In addition to Cooper's pick six, the Eagles defense collected a safety, an interception, two fumble recoveries and five quarterback sacks while seemingly living in the Warriors backfield to help build a 48-6 lead and eat up clock heading into the final quarter.Following Walnut Grove's second offense series, Eastside took advantage of its opportunity to showcase its offensive weapons, paced on the drive by quarterback Demario Terrell's 4-of-5 passing for 43 yards. The final 10 yards of the drive came through the air on a Terrell-to-Napoleon Johnson connection, increasing the lead to 14-0 with just over six minutes gone in the game.

The second quarter saw the Eagles offense continue to gain momentum. Following a Colton Smith 25-yard field goal and a fumble recovery at the Walnut Grove 48-yard line, Eastside began to pull away. The starting point of the drive marked Eastside's worst field position of the opening half.

Undaunted with the starting position, the Eagles rode the capable legs of senior running back Alex Smith and covered the 48 yards in nine plays. Smith rushed four times on the drive for 28 yards with his 13-yard scamper increasing the lead to 24-0 and diminishing Walnut Grove's hopes of a comeback.

What little hopes the Warriors had of a comeback faded in the back end of the first half, when a safety and two-play scoring drive combined to put Eastside up 34-0 heading into the halftime festivities. The Eagles football team continued to dominate the night during intermission as Eagles senior wide receiver Bryant Johnson snagged Homecoming King honors.

For the game, Terrell completed 14 passes on 24 attempts for 128 yards including two touchdown passes. Terrell spread the wealth as he hooked up with eight different receivers. Cameron Boyd led the balanced attack with four receptions for 23 yards.

Walnut Grove opened the second half doing its best to make a game of it as the Warriors intercepted a pass on the Eagles' opening drive and capped a three-play, eight-yard drive with a one-yard plunge cutting the lead to 34-6.

Order was restored quickly when the Eagles' ensuing drive covered 98 yards on 16 plays. Smith continued to be too much for the visitors as he accounted for five touches and 45 yards on the drive. For the game, Smith carried the ball 12 times for 103 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown.

Finishing up the work on the length of the field drive, running back Landon Moore went the final seven yards with 5:20 remaining in the stanza and increased the Eagles' lead to 41-6. Closing out the third quarter scoring was Smith and his nine-yard touchdown reception, upping the total to 48-6 and setting the table for the Eastside reserves, a running clock and a victory.