Big second half lifts Eastside over Walnut Grove

WALNUT GROVE — Eastside started slow but finished strong continuing their playoff hunt beating Walnut Grove 42-14 on Friday.

The Warriors (1-7 overall, 0-5 Region 8-AAAA) offense had a lot of confidence to start the game against the Eagles (5-3, 3-2) defense as they successfully drove the ball down the field for a touchdown. Walnut Grove’s defense stopped Eastside’s forcing them to punt. However, the Eagles defense was able to get a stop in the endzone for a safety making it 7-2.

The Eagles were able to take advantage of the short field after getting the ball back taking a 10-7 lead following the two-point conversion.

Eastside started to get a rhythm scoring again taking a 16-7 lead. That momentum came at a cost as kicker Jake Shelton got hurt on the extra-point attempt.

“The extra point was blocked and we may have lost our kicker for the year,” Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. “We don’t know yet, we’ll find out Monday. The guy came off the edge and they were able to get to it (ball). Once they put their hand on it everyone’s fair game.

“That’s how we ended the first half, up 16-14. We just weren’t playing well. It’s the same stuff with the penalties, we had a couple of holding penalties.”

Hurst forced his team to play looking the mirror and see if they were playing to the best of their ability. The defense responded by shutting down the Warriors offense while the offense scored 26 unanswered points.

“We challenged them in the second half and they came out and did what they were suppose to do. I don’t think we gave up a first down in the second half,” Hurst said.

The Eagles defense was led by defensive tackles Luke Haney and James Russell. Haney had several key stops including several sacks and a couple tackles for losses.

Offensively, freshman quarterback Austin Holloway continued to show improvement and confidence as he threw a couple touchdowns while Andrew Henderson kept the defense off balance running the ball effectively.

“We didn’t start out that way but we finished well. We should’ve done in the first half what we did in the second half,” Hurst said. “In the second half, our offensive line did a good job. They finally got physical and we started doing what we should have been doing in the first half.”