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break the game open. East­side’s bend, don’t break de­fense, led by Zac Johnston, forced a Teasley fum­ble to stop the drive and the Ea­gles re­sponded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive to take a 10-7 lead. Wray scored on a 24-yard run over the left side and the Ea­gles led with 5:57 re­main­ing in the half. The Bull­dogs stormed right back as Teasley again ex­ploited the Ea­gle’s de­fense for a 19yard touch­down run on Stephens County’s sec­ond play of its en­su­ing drive. Af­ter East­side fum­bled the ball, the Bull­dogs moved in­side the red zone and threat­ened to take a two-score lead. Mo­ments later, Wray came up with the game-chang­ing play re­cov­ered Teasley’s sec­ond fum­ble and took it 80 yards to give East­side a 17-14 lead. “That was a big mo­men­tum shift for us,” Hurst said. “That was big. That put us up 17-14 and got our crowd back into the game and got our kids be­liev­ing again.” The Ea­gles’ de­fense shut down the Bull­dogs’ run­ning game in the sec­ond half, lim­it­ing Teasley to 35 yards. Mean­while, East­side’s of­fense took ad­van­tage of three turnovers to score 21 unan­swered points. “I just chal­lenged our de­fense,” Hurst said. “I chal­lenged our de­fen­sive line and told them we were get­ting our butts kicked, and we were. We were in po­si­tion to make plays and we were pen­e­trat­ing like we wanted to do but they weren’t squeez­ing and that kid was just run­ning in gaps. They came back with a lit­tle bit of frus­tra­tion and took it out on them [Stephens County].” In all, the Bull­dogs had four fum­bles and a late in­ter­cep­tion af­ter the game was de­cided. Teasley had three fum­bles and the Ea­gles were plus four over­all in turnovers. “The head coach from Hart [County} told me, if you keep hit­ting him, No. 28, he’ll put the ball on the ground,” Hurst said. “Half the time we weren’t hit­ting him un­til he got to the secondary. But when we put a hat on him, he [Teasley] put the ball on the ground.” The Ea­gles of­fense came alive in the sec­ond half and Stephens County had no an­swer for Wray and com­pany. Wray threw a 28-yard touch­down pass to An­drico Bai­ley and run­ning back Brod­er­ick Alexan­der scored two rush­ing touch­downs in­clud­ing an 18-yarder to seal the win. “Our kids stayed fo­cused,” Hurst said. “That is the one thing we’ve talked about and are try­ing to do a bet­ter job of. When some­thing hap­pens, it’s just like prize fight­ing. You come right back and hit them right square in the mouth.” Aiken led the way for East­side on the ground with 108 yards on 10 car­ries while Wray picked up 68. Wray also con­trib­uted on de­fense with two tack­les and one pass de­flec­tion to go along with his fum­ble re­cov­ery. Teasley ended the night with 208 yards on 23 car­ries in­clud­ing the Bull­dogs’ two touch­downs. Johnston had a big game on de­fense as he recorded nine tack­les, forced tow fum­bles and had one fum­ble re­cov­ery. The win has brought on whis­pers of an un­de­feated sea­son. East­side faces a tough op­po­nent Fri­day at Hart County. But should the Ea­gles get past that game un­scathed, they fin­ish with three of their fi­nal four games at home. Hurst has been down that road be­fore. In 1996, he was the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for and Amer­i­cus team that lost only its state cham­pi­onship game. “It means a lot to me be­cause I wanted to take this pro­gram and let th­ese guys feel what I’ve felt be­fore in the past at other places,” Hurst said. “Th­ese guys now un­der­stand, not just Cov­ing­ton, not just Rock­dale, but the whole state will know what we are out to do.”

An­thony Banks/The Cov­ing­ton News

Con­fi­dent leader: East­side's Justin Wray rolls out to pass Satur­day night dur­ing the Ea­gles' victory over Stephens County. Wray scored three touch­downs, in­clud­ing an 80-yard fum­ble re­turn.

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