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.”
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.