The Tigers entered the game with quarterback Dakota Cruber having thrown for 25 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.
The East Side defense managed to neutralize Cruber and the passing attack with a good pass rush led by senior Barron Burns who sacked Cruber six times en route to leading the Trojans to a 42-13 victory. On the night, East Side sacked Cruber eight times.
The Trojans improved to 9-3 and will advance to the second round to face the North Panola Cougars (7-5) at 7 p.m. Friday in Sardis. North Panola advanced Friday with a 52-48 win over No. 2 seeded Booneville.
Head Coach Kendrick Woodard felt his team really came together defensively and played a strong game, particularly in the second half after trailing 13-12 in the first half.
"At halftime we went in and said we wanted to take advantage of our speed,” Woodard said. “We felt like they couldn't block us up front and that our defensive backs could cover, so we went on and brought six guys to their five guys blocking and that was the difference for us.”
Woodard added that Burns’s effort was something to be proud of and the way he played was memorable.
"It's that time of the year for him,” Woodard said. “He's been banged up this year, but this year in practice he said he felt good and he was ready. Going into these playoffs they know that their high school careers could end on any given Friday night so he came out and did a tremendous job tonight.”
Burns said he wanted to lay it all on the line for his team and leave it all on the field.
"We came and played like a team,” Burns said. “Coach (Woodard) told us to leave it all on the field and we wanted to do that. For the seniors it's our last year and we want to make the best out of it win, lose or draw. I had fun tonight and played hard for my team. They are a good team that love to pass the football and we practiced all week on getting to the passer and tonight practice paid off and we were able to get to him.”
The Trojans stopped the Tigers' opening drive when Taquille Eatmon sacked Cruber to force a punt.
East Side took over on its 49-yard line and put together a seven play, 51-yard drive that saw Eatmon scamper on a 23-yard touchdown run. The conversion attempt failed but East Side led 6-0.
The Tigers wasted no time answering the Trojans’ score by putting together a drive that saw Cruber connect with Levert Jernigan for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 6:45 left in the first quarter. The kick after was good to give Nettleton a 7-6 lead.
East Side was moving the ball well on its next possession, but the handoff from Dy'Monquae Pates to Barron Burns led to a fumble that was recovered by TJ Coleman who returned the ball to the East Side 40-yard line. The East Side defense held strong to force a punt from Nettleton.
Following punts from both teams, the Trojans were back in business and this time the offense made the plays they needed to as Jalen Thomas connected with Perry Henry for a 30-yard reception and a four yard reception. As the drive continued the Trojans faced a fourth-and-six on Nettleton's 48-yard line and Woodard elected to go for it.
That decision paid off as Eatmon broke through the line on a 48-yard touchdown run with 5:06 left in the second quarter. The conversion attempt failed, but East Side led 12-7.
The Tigers responded with a five play, 70-yard drive that resulted in a three-yard touchdown run from Laonta Nabors with 2:23 remaining in the second quarter. The kick was no good but Nettleton led 13-12, which would be the score at halftime.
The Trojans started the third quarter with a two-play drive that saw Butler go on a 29-yard run and Thomas go on a 44-yard touchdown run with 10:55 left in the third quarter for an 18-13 East Side lead.
Nettleton answered with a touchdown run, but the score was called back for holding. The penalty was huge as the Trojans’ defense pushed the Tigers back farther, which ended the drive in a punt.
East Side scored on the next drive as Quadre Butler capped it off with a five-yard touchdown run with 5:57 left in the third. Eatmon added the two-point conversion for a 26-13 lead.
Burns ended the Tigers next drive with a sack on Cruber to force another punt. With the ball, the Trojans went back to work, but this time Thomas went through the air connecting with Leon Green, Jr. for a 61-yard pass down to the two-yard line. Butler punched it in from there for a two-yard touchdown with 1:49 left in the third. Butler added the two-point conversion for a 34-13 lead.
East Side scored again in the fourth with 3:59 left in the game when Butler scored from nine-yards out. Henry added the conversion for a 42-13 game.
Eatmon led the Trojans offense with 145 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. Butler ran for 122 yards on 19 carries with three touchdowns; Thomas ran for 101 yards on nine carries with one touchdown and went 3-of-3 passing for 95 yards and Pates rushed for 23 yards on five carries and completed 2-of-3 passes for 13 yards.
The defense was led by Burns with 10 tackles including six sacks, Eatmon finished with 10 tackles and two sacks, Jamarcus Burns had four tackles and a sack and Simeon Kimble finished with five tackles and a sack.