More questions than answers arose as first year coach Joac Williams led his Eagles against his fellow first year coach Kendrick Woodard who was leading the Trojans.
With both coaches having made their bones as defensive coaches, it was no surprise that this clash was a defensive battle early on, but behind solid blocking from a strong Trojans' line and the two-headed monster of Quadre Butler and Taquille Eatmon, the Trojans were able to escape with a 20-8 victory. The Trojans improved to 3-1, while the Eagles fell to 2-2.
"First half, we came out and both teams played really well defensively,” Woodard said. “It was really tough to run the football and get anything going. We got out of our game again killing ourselves with penalties. We came out in the second half and wanted to establish the run because we thought coming in that we were going to be able to run it.”
“It was a good game,” Williams said. “When two heavyweights get together you're waiting for someone to throw that knockout punch. I figured it would come down to whom could establish the run and they did. We seemed to get tired at the end on defense and then they have two good backs that they changed out on us and they was able to run the ball effectively. My hat goes off to them.”
The key to running the ball for the Trojans in the second half came in the play of their offensive line, the lead blocking of Barron Burns and the running of Butler and Eatmon.
"Those guys (lineman) went into the locker room at halftime and got down on themselves,” Woodard said. “I was going to go spread in the second half, but they looked at me and said that they were ready to play and it showed on that second TD in the fourth quarter. They pinned their ears back and said, 'lets run it'. It's great to have depth in the backfield. If one guy goes down or they try to key in on one guy the other is able to come through for us. We didn't use (Barron) Burns to run the ball as much tonight, but he did a great job blocking for Butler and Eatmon.”
West Bolivar's Williams said defending that change of pace from different running backs could be difficult for defenders.
"Each back brings something different,” Williams said. “Butler is a power back and we gear our defense up to stop those types of backs. Eatmon is a slasher and he was able to get the outside on us. Basically the change of pace caught up with us. You are in their with one type and you're defending him a certain way, but then here comes another one coming right at you and that's hard to defend.”
The contest was locked at 0-0 at halftime as both teams struggled to get anything going.
In the third quarter, the Trojans found themselves facing a third and 14, but Burns broke free for a 37 yard run down to the Eagles' 20-yard line. Two plays later Eatmon reached pay dirt with an 18-yard touchdown run with 9:31 left in the third quarter. Burns added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 East Side lead.
At the end of the conversion attempt, Eatmon was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, which forced Burns to kickoff from deeper than usual.
The penalty proved beneficial as Deguadereck Rice caught the ball on the 30-yard line and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown with 9:18 left on the clock in the third quarter. The conversion attempt failed, but the score was now 8-6.
Mistakes by East Side reared its ugly head again with 4:56 left in the third when Dymonquae Pates could not handle a snap that traveled out of the end zone for a safety to give the Eagles a safety and tie the game at 8-8.
Tied at 8-8, the Trojans looked to their rushing offense as they went to a power set with no receivers. The move was big as Eatmon and Burns broke through the line and carried the Trojans down the field and with 6:35 left in the fourth Butler scored on a two-yard run. The conversion failed, but the Trojans now had a 14-8 lead.
The Eagles received the ball, but could not muster any consistent offense and punted the ball away.
East Side went back to their power set and again pushed the ball down field and with 59 seconds left in the contest Butler pushed his way to a 42-yard touchdown run. The conversion failed, but the Trojans would go on to win the game 20-8.
East Side finished the night with 286 rushing yards on 41 carries. Butler rushed for 152 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns to lead the Trojans, followed by Eatmon with 73 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown.
Eatmon led the Trojans' defense with 17 tackles, followed by Dy'Monquae Pates with 10 tackles, Jamarcus Burns with eight tackles and Barron Burns with six tackles.
Tayshawn Conway led the Eagles’ offense by completing 2-of-6 passes for 36 yards and rushing for 79 yards on nine carries. Gregory Robb ran for 38 yards on eight carries to aid the Eagles.
Larry Walker led the Eagles’ defense with 10 tackles, followed Rice wiht seven tackles. Rice also accounted for 145 yards on four returns with a touchdown.
East Side will play Leland at 7 p.m. Friday in Leland. West Bolivar will be off this week, but will play West Tally at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27.