On Friday, the Trojans were 0-for-3 on two point tries, but when Baron Burns hauled in an 84-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Thomas with 2:51 left in the fourth quarter, East Side head football coach Roger Burton decided that on this night the fourth time would be the charm.
His gamble paid off as Burns broke the 24-24 tie to give the Trojans a 26-24 lead which would prove to be the winning score as East Side prevailed over the Water Valley Blue Devils 26-24 here at Leroy Byars Stadium on the campus of East Side High School.
The second round 3A State Playoff victory improved the Trojans to a perfect 13-0 on the season and increased the team's home win streak to 15 games dating back to 2010.
"We knew this was going to be a tough ball game,” Burton said. “That is a really good team over there (Water Valley) and they came to play. It was a grind, and we played outstanding. I'm proud of our effort tonight in all phases.”
Burton added that on the touchdown that tied the game, "We had that play on the first play of the game, but we were called for an illegal procedure. We caught them looking in the backfield and the team executed perfectly.”
The game started great for the Trojans as they put together a good drive that culminated in Burns scoring on a seven-yard run with 7:03 remaining in the first quarter. The 2-point conversion failed, but the Trojans led 6-0.
The Blue Devils responded with a strong drive of their own which was capped off with a 29-yard touchdown pass from E.J. Bounds to T.T. Person for a first quarter score. Alex Robles added the kick after for a 7-6 Water Valley lead.
The next two drives ended in punts for both teams.
The Trojans’ next possession began in the second quarter on their 29-yard line. On this drive, the Trojan offensive line dominated the trench war as they made holes for Burns, Quadre Butler, Dy'monquae Pates, Taquille Eatmon and Thomas.
The offensive line play paid off with 6:46 left in the second quarter as Thomas scored on a nine-yard run. The 2-point attempt failed, but East Side led 12-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans’ special teams managed to strip the ball from a Water Valley player and East Side's Tremonta Handy recovered the ball to give it to the Trojans' offense in Blue Devils' territory on the 29-yard line.
The Trojans were not able to do anything with the turnover as Water Valley forced a turnover on downs and the first half ended with a 12-7 East Side lead.
The Blue Devils received the kick to start the third quarter and got great field position when the Water Valley return man brought the ball out to the 48-yard line. The drive was going good for Water Valley, but the Blue Devils tested Trojan corner back Paddarius Bronner and found out quickly just how good the sophomore cover-corner was as he snagged the interception in the end zone for the touchback to give his team the ball on its 20-yard line. The interception was Bronner's eighth on the year.
On the next drive, Butler brought the fans in the stadium to their feet with a dazzling 53-yard touchdown run with 5:25 left in the third quarter. The conversion failed, but East Side led 18-7.
Water Valley did not back down as Bounds put the team on his back and drove down field with great runs. Bounds' big runs on the drive eventually set up a five yard touchdown run for him with 3:37 left in the third quarter The point after from Robles was good for an 18-14 score.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans made what proved to be their biggest mistake of the night as the team could not control the kick and Water Valley recovered deep in Trojans territory. With 2:10 left in the third, Bounds connected with L.J. Hawkins for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Robles added the point after for a 21-18 Water Valley lead.
On East Side's next possession, the team was forced to punt again.
With the game now in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils were looking to put the game out of reach, but the Trojans’ defense came up big again and with 7:29 left in the fourth the Trojans forced a field goal from Robles who connected on the 37-yard attempt to give the Blue Devils a 24-18 lead.
The Trojans and Blue Devils went three and out and had to punt. East Side got the ball back with under 4:00 left in the game. On the first play of the drive, Thomas connected with Burns on a sweep half back pass that went 84-yards for the score. Burns got the two-point conversion for a 26-24 Trojans lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Water Valley couldn't control the kick and Eatmon recovered the ball to get it back to the Trojans.
The Trojans ran the ball, but Water Valley used timeouts to stop the clock. On fourth-and-6, East Side went for it and Thomas converted the first down with a 19-yard run to the 10-yard line, which allowed the Trojans to then run out the clock for the victory.
Burns led the Trojans offense with 34 rushing yards on 10 carries with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. He also caught two passes for 97 yards with a touchdown. Butler ran for 134 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown, and Thomas ran for 81 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown and completed 2-of-3 passes for 97 yards with a touchdown to round out the offense.
Michael Hurns led the Trojans defense with 16 tackles, followed by Vernell Baldridge had 12 tackles with a sack, Burns had 12 tackles, Taquille Eatmon with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery, Handy with two tackles and a fumble recovery and Bronner with three tackles and an interception.
The Trojans will be on the road to play Byhalia for third round the 3A State Playoffs this Friday.