When the final horn sounded at Leroy Byars Field in Cleveland, the Trojans' record remained perfect (9-0, 3-0) with a 24-8 win despite a stagnant showing on the offensive side of the ball. The Trojans’ offense threw three interceptions and was stopped inside the red zone four times. East Side’s defense held firm again and was able to keep the Mustangs at bay.
“Turnovers, turnover, turnovers,” East Side head football coach Roger Burton said. “We had three turnovers in the end zone and getting stopped fourth and goal, we have to correct that. We have to do a better job of kickoff coverage.”
“Our defense played fine,” Burton added. “Offensively, it’s just turnovers period.”
The Trojans’ offense opened the game by putting together a solid offensive series, which concluded with a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Johnathan Clerk-Beamon to Quadarrius Shaw in the left corner of the end zone. Shaw showed complete concentration as the pass was knocked into the air by a McClain defensive back before finding his outstretched arms for the score.
The Trojans went for the two-point conversion but came up short. However, East Side took the early 6-0 lead with 8:56 remaining in the opening period.
The stingy Trojan defense tightened their chinstraps and buckled down from the very beginning. Being forced to punt after punt, the Mustang offense was utterly dominated at the line of scrimmage.
However, the Trojans' offense was spitting and sputtering and were forced into several consecutive punting situations themselves.
With 4:03 to play in the first half and hanging tightly to the 6-0 lead, the Trojans' defense had McClain trapped with a fourth and long from its own 13-yard line. The McClain punter came on to the field looking to play the field position game. The long snap, which seemed to be a problem area all night for the Mustangs, sailed over the punter's head.
The Mustang punter recovered and attempted a pass, which fell incomplete; but a man in stripes threw a flag. The call was intentional grounding, and with the loss of down, the Trojan offense took the ball in the red zone just three yards from paydirt.
On first-and-goal, Trojan running back Quadre Butler, took the handoff up the middle and went in untouched for the score.
The two-point conversion failed again, but East Side took the 12-0 lead with 2:14 to play in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, McClain's senior leader Robert Jordan fielded the squib kick at his own 17-yard line. Showcasing a burst of speed, Jordan hit the left sideline before cutting back to the middle and 83-yards later was standing exhausted in the end zone.
McClain added the two-point conversion on a quarterback keeper to the middle, and East Side entered the locker rooms with the 12-8 lead.
In the second half, the Trojans' defense would lock in again, holding the Mustangs scoreless the rest of the contest.
Both offenses struggled early in the second half, and the Trojan defense was responsible for the games final two scores.
With 2:02 to play in the third, defensive back Jaylon Thomas picked off a Mustang pass and returned it 55 yards for the score. The two-point conversion was once again no good and the Trojans' took the late 18-8 lead. On their next offensive series, the Mustangs' center launched a shotgun snap over the quarterback's head and Taquille Eatmon recovered the fumble for the Trojans on the eight-yard line. Two plays later Eatmon took a handoff over the right tackle for a two yard score, the last of the contest. The two-point conversion failed again but East Side held on for the 24-8 win.
Butler rushed for 141 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown to lead the Trojans’ ground game. Beamon completed 7-of-12 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions and rushed for 35 yards to aid the offense, followed by Kamien Lucas with two catches for 50 yards, Brandt Williams with three catches for 46 yards and Shaw with two catches for 39 yards and a TD.
On defense, Michael Hurns recorded eight tackles, while Thomas and Paddarius Bronner intercepted a pass each to lead the Trojans’ defense.
Next up for the Trojans is a short trip east to Ruleville for a regional contest against the Ruleville Central Tigers. The Tigers have won their last two games and currently 2-7 but 2-1 in Region 4-3A.
“We better show up or we’ll be embarrassed,” Burton added. “Now, we have to go get it. All of a sudden, this game could be for the district championship. We can’t worry about anybody but Ruleville this week.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.