The defending 3A State Champions drove up and down the field on a tired East Side Trojans’ defense to walk away with a 56-0 victory in the 3A North Half Title game to punch their ticket to Jackson next week to take on Hazlehurst at 11 a.m. Saturday.
For the second consecutive year, the Tigers (14-1) turned East Side's dream into a nightmare as they ended the Trojans' undefeated season at 14-1. The Tigers also snapped East Side's home winning streak at 15 games.
"We just got out played,” East Side head football coach Roger Burton said. “We wanted to come out and run right at them, because they are too fast to run on to the outside. We didn't get the push up front we needed and on defense you can't miss tackles against them because they will make you pay and that happened to us in this game.”
The Trojans’ defense came out on fire as they forced the Tigers to punt on a three-and-out.
The Trojans’ offense did not fair too well with the ball themselves as two short runs and an incomplete pass led to a punt of their own.
Charleston's next possession was short lived as well as Kamien Lucas sacked Charleston's Kameron Myers to bring up a third-and-20. Charleston's next pass fell incomplete, and the Tigers had to punt again.
The Trojans came back out and tried running the football again and ended up with a fourth down-and-one after Quadre Butler and Barron Burns both had carries to get the Trojans to within one yard for the first down at the team's 37 yard line. With the score knotted 0-0 and the defense playing well, Burton elected to punt the ball away.
On Charleston's next possession, things begin to look up as the Tigers converted a third down-and-seven for 46 yards with Myers connecting with Tilmus Bradford. Myers then broke free for a 15-yard run down to the Trojans’ eight-yard line. On second and goal from the eight, East Side tackled Myers for a six-yard loss to bring up third-and-14. Myers then scampered for a six-yard gain to bring the ball to the nine-yard line.
Looking at fourth-and-goal from the nine-yard line, the Tigers set up their play, but with the play clock running down, Burton called timeout.
The Tigers appeared to readjust out of the Trojan timeout as they came out in a different formation from the one they had set before the pause in play. It proved beneficial as Jalen Haywood connected with Myers for a nine-yard touchdown with 2:50 left in the first quarter. The 2-point conversion failed, but Charleston led 6-0.
East Side's next possession ended in another punt, but on the return Ge'Vonte Jones fumbled and Paddarrious Bronner recovered the ball for East Side at the Tigers' 19-yard line. As the second quarter rolled around, the Trojans tried to get things going as they picked up their first, first down of the night when Burns converted one. That success did not last long as the drive stalled, and the Trojans had to punt again.
The Tigers took control of the ball at the 28-yard line and on the first play, Deshadrick Truly burst through the line untouched for a 72-yard touchdown with 8:52 left in the second quarter. The 2-point conversion failed, but Charleston led 12-0.
The Trojans got the ball back on the kickoff and Butler got the team fired up with a big run around the right side of the line, but it also ended up not meaning much as the Tigers' defense brought out the claws again, but this time it was a fourth down stop for a turnover on downs.
The Tigers struck quick when Haywood connected with Myers on a quick slant and he broke free for a 65-yard touchdown with 4:44 left in the second quarter. Haywood added the 2-point conversion for a 20-0 lead.
The Trojans found themselves in a third-and-long situation on their next possession. East Side's Jalen Thomas let the ball fly, but it was intercepted by Truly who returned it into Trojans' territory.
With the clock rolling, Charleston managed to get on the board again as they rushed in for another touchdown with 1:17 left in the first half. Bradford added the 2-point conversion for a 28-0 Charleston lead.
On the Trojans' next possession, Burton put senior quarterback Jonathan Clerk-Beamon in the game, but there was no magic in his arm as the quarter ended with East Side trailing Charleston 28-0.
To start the third quarter, the Trojans received the ball, but didn't do anything with it as they had to punt the ball away.
Despite trailing by 28-points, the Trojans’ defense still had some fight left and Bronner came through as he intercepted a pass and returned it nearly 75-yards inside the Tigers' 10-yard line. The Trojans offense could not take advantage of the great field position as they turned the ball over on downs.
Once again, the Tigers took advantage as Myers took the ball on an 82-yard touchdown run with 6:49 left in the third quarter. The conversion failed, but the Tigers led 34-0.
Charleston would go on to score 16 more points in the third and six points in the fourth to shut out the Trojans 56-0.
"I'm really proud of this team and I'm especially proud of the seniors who bought in to what we were trying to do here. We will be back and we will be better at what we do," said Burton.