Eastside’s Jaquan Henderson (left) gets an angle on Chestatee’s Kris Pierce (7) as Henderson runs for a 99-yard touchdown in the second quarter of Friday’s game at Homer Sharp Stadium. (Staff photo: Erin Evans)
COVINGTON — Chestatee did what they do best - run the ball - as they gained more than 400 yards on the ground including a 78-yard run on a fake punt which helped beat Eastside 33-23 in their Region 8-AAAA opener at Homer Sharp Stadium on Friday.
“We just made too many mistakes. That’s what we have to fix. It’s like I told them, we have to fix between the ears right now. It’s not the physical part,” Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. “We played toe-to-toe with them and played a very tough physical football game. Right now between the ears is where its beating us.”
The Eastside (2-2, 0-1) defense started the game looking like they were going to be able to put a lid on Chestatee’s (2-1, 1-0) running game holding them to 18 yards in the first quarter.
In their first two possessions, the Eagles were well balanced running the ball 14 times while Damario Terrell threw the ball 10 times completing eight of his passes.
Eastside put the first points on the board scoring with 27 second left on the clock on a 5-yard run by Jomandi Smith.
It didn’t take long for Eastside to score a touchdown of their own to make it 8-6 two minutes into the second quarter.
Eastside responded with a 99-yard kickoff return by Jaquan Henderson to go up 16-8.
Something clicked in Chestatee’s running game as they were able to start gaining three to five yards at a time moving the ball right up the middle of the field. In the second quarter alone, Chestatee had 158 rushing yards with Zac Cheshire gaining 98 yards on seven carries. Cheshire finished the game with 152 yards on 20 touches.
Chestatee continued to run the ball down through Eastside’s defense taking a 19-16 lead with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
It seemed like Eastside had found a way to stop Chestatee’s running game in the final moments of the third period. Chestaee put themselves in fourth and six situation on their 17-yard line following a penalty. But the Eagles jumped offside’s putting the ball on the 22 to make it fourth and one.
“They can’t simulate the snap,” Hurst said. “They hadn’t done that the whole game. Then they pop down and we jumped. It put us in fourth and one.”
Chestatee’s coaching staff must have noticed something in Eastside because they went for a fake punt resulting in a 78-yard touchdown run by Tray Bryant.
“We told them to watch for the back when they rush because we going after the punt. Obviously it would’ve given us good field position. But we go right by him and he goes the distance,” Hurst said. “That’s the difference in the ballgame.”
Chestatee scored one more time with 5:40 left in the game before Terrell found Evan House in the endzone a little bit too late with only 1:10 left to play.
Eastside finished with 42 yards rushing on 27 carries while passing for 143 yards with Terrell going 16-for-27.
“They did a good job of taking away some of the schemes we’ve been fortunate enough to run the last couple of weeks. Their coaches did a good job adjusting to that,” Hurst said. “They had two weeks off preparing for us and it showed. I was proud of our kids for playing hard. We just have to cut out the mental mistakes.”