COVINGTON, Ga. — The Eastside Eagles began their region slate off on the right foot with a 34-14 win over the Flowery Branch Falcons on the back of another dominant defensive showing.
Coming into their fifth game of the season, the Eagles had yet to allow an opponent to score more than 14 points, and that streak continued Thursday night.
Head coach Jay Cawthon was thrilled with the defense’s performance.
“They do what they are coached to do, and the defensive staff does a good job to put them in good positions,” Cawthon said. “They believe in us, and they are playing fast and physical.”
The biggest play of the night came on the defensive side of the ball.
On a third down around midfield, Falcons’ quarterback Brody Jordan attempted a screen pass, but it was intercepted by the Coastal Carolina commit Jean Claude Joseph III, who took it 55-yards for the pick-six.
“I said as soon as I got the ball I was scoring,” Joseph said. “We all just want to help the team and do our best to elevate the team.”
Holding the Falcons to 14 points wasn’t satisfactory for the senior linebacker, though.
“We really wanted to shut them out, 14 [points] is not good enough,” Joseph said. “We want to shut [teams] out, that is the goal.”
The defensive touchdown gave Eastside a 13-0 lead going into the second quarter.
The Eagles added more on the first play of the second quarter as Kenai Grier, who scored four touchdowns last week, took the carry in for the score from the one-yard line to give Eastside a 20-0 lead.
By that point, Grier already had two scores as he punched it into the end zone early in the contest that gave Eastside its first points.
Late in the second quarter, the Falcons caught a break on a Grier fumble that was recovered deep in Eagles’ territory.
The Falcons capitalized on the Eastside miscue with a seven-yard touchdown run from Myles Ivey, which reduced the Eagles’ lead to 20-7 going into halftime.
The Eagles turned up the heat on both sides of the ball coming out of the locker room.
After forcing a quick Falcons’ punt, Grier broke through for a 67-yard touchdown, marking his third of the game.
On the next drive, the Eagles defense got revenge for the touchdown before the half as senior Aeron Gresham picked off Jordan around midfield.
The Eagles rushing attack struck one more time before the final whistle with a three-yard rush from DJ Henderson to give the Eagles a 34-7 lead.
After Eastside’s defensive starters were pulled from the game, the Falcons added on one more touchdown but it was too late as the Eagles came out with the 34-14 win.
The 34-14 win over the Falcons showed the strength of the Eagles, through a dominant run game and a defense that completely shut down the Flowery Branch offense.
Grier put together another solid game as the senior rushed for 178 yards on 14 carries while reaching the end zone three times.
“[Kenai] is a dude, plain and simple,” Cawthon said. “But he loves his teammates, it’s never about him. He is carrying the load for us right now.”
As the Eagles look to get back to the postseason, they checked the first box off with a 1-0 start in the region. Now, they’re 4-1 overall and have a Region 8-AAAAA contest on the road, the first time since Week 1 that Eastside will have a true road game, at Loganville.
“[Starting 1-0] is all we talk about, never looking ahead,” Cawthon said. “I am proud of them. I told every single one of them I loved the way they prepared week in and week out, every single day.”