East over­takes Al­covy

Ri­vals face off in 12th matchup, with Ea­gles gain­ing the edge over Tigers

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL STOVALL gsto­vall@cov­news.com

Big breaks and costly mis­takes. That’s the short, sweet run­down on the 12th edi­tion of the Al­covy-East­side ri­valry. The Ea­gles were vic­to­ri­ous, 166, in a game that could’ve eas­ily went the other way.

And for Al­covy coach, Chris Edgar, it was hard for him to hide his dis­ap­point­ment. Af­ter the postgame hud­dle with his team and the cus­tom­ary gath­er­ing in front of the Al­covy band, Edgar sank down to one knee, head held down, and re­mained there for a mo­ment.

Then he emerged with misty eyes, wrestling to find the right words to quan­tify his emo­tions.

“It’s a lot,” Edgar said. Then a long pause be­fore con­tin­u­ing to speak. “We’ve gotta cre­ate our own breaks be­cause we’re def­i­nitely not get­ting them. It’s the sec­ond week in a row. I can’t talk about the refs, but it’s a dif­fer­ence in the ball game.”

A week af­ter feel­ing like his team was on the wrong end of two costly penal­ties against Mead­owcreek, Edgar saw tough of­fi­ci­at­ing calls take points off the board for his Tigers Fri­day against East­side.

“You can’t blame the of­fi­cials,” Edgar said. “Our guys bat­tled. They played hard. They fought. Our de­fense stepped up and played all night. Of­fen­sively ev­ery time we get some­thing go­ing, some­thing changes our mo­men­tum and our rhythm.”

Per­haps the one for­tune-shift­ing call that was the death knell for Al­covy’s hopes of win­ning its first game against East­side in four years came while the Ea­gles were lead­ing 10-6. East­side run­ning back, Tay­lor Carter took a kick re­turn to the East­side 45-yard line, and ap­peared to fum­ble the ball. The Al­covy side­line erupted, believ­ing a Tiger had re­cov­ered it, but the of­fi­cials ruled Tay- lor down be­fore the ball came out.

Those were the kinds of bad breaks that went East­side’s way in­stead of Al­covy’s Fri­day night. But it was the Tigers’ self-in­flicted mis­takes which truly made the dif­fer­ence.

Al­covy had four pos­si­ble touch­downs called back due to mis­cues. Two

of them — dropped passes — had noth­ing to do with the of­fi­ci­at­ing, how­ever.

The first one came on a 3rd and 13 sit­u­a­tion when Al­covy quar­ter­back Cameron An­der­son fired a deep pass to Kameron Phuong who was streak­ing past an East­side safety down the mid­dle of the field. The ball lit­er­ally slipped through his fin­ger­tips, in­com­plete. If he caught it, it would’ve likely been an 87-yard score.

In­stead, the Tigers were forced to punt, and East­side would score the game’s first touch­down when fresh­man Quincy Collins scam­pered in from 15 yards out at the 25.6-sec­ond mark of the first quar­ter.

The next drop came on Al­covy’s en­su­ing drive. An­der­son fired a per­fect strike to a wide open Dee Fan­ning in stride who bob­bled the ball be­fore fall­ing to the ground empty handed. If he held on, it would’ve been a 74-yard touch­down.

The next two scores, how­ever, were sub­tracted, thanks to penal­ties. The first one came when Quin­drelin Ham­monds danced and weaved his way to what looked like an 83-yard touch­down run, only to see it negated by a hold­ing call five yards be­hind the orig­i­nal line of scrim­mage. On the next drive, An­der­son’s pass to Jairus An­thony was waived off be­cause of a hold­ing penalty. But three plays later, An­der­son would find Fan­ning on a 19-yard scor­ing strike.

The Tigers thought they had re­newed hope on Carter’s near fum­ble. But af­ter East­side took pos­ses­sion, the Ea­gles’ run­ning game took over. Tyon Davis ripped off gains of 5 and 11 yards, while Carter got a 14-yard chunk to give East­side a first down at the Al­covy 12.

On that play, Al­covy de­fen­sive line­men An­drew Bin­ion ap­peared to sus­tain an in­jury se­ri­ous enough to stop play for about 20 min­utes in or­der to cart him off the field. But on the very first play af­ter the game re­sumed, East­side quar­ter­back Bray­den Harper scored from 12 yards out on a zone read keeper at the 3:50 mark of the fourth quar­ter.

Harper, who has re­placed in­jured sopho­more starter Noah Cook, made sev­eral gutsy plays with his legs, in­clud­ing a seven yard run on 3rd and 6 early in the third quar­ter that kept a cru­cial drive alive.

He also threw a first down pass on a rope to sopho­more Colby Shivers for 32 yards right be­fore the third quar­ter ended to put East­side in prime scor­ing po­si­tion.

Ea­gles coach, Troy Hoff said it’s the kind of play he’s ex­pected from his se­nior quar­ter­back, de­spite it be­ing his first year start­ing un­der cen­ter, and hav­ing to get read­justed to be­ing un­der cen­ter af­ter Cook’s in­jury.

“Bray­den’s just be­ing Bray­den,” Hoff said. “He’s go­ing to do what he needs to do to get the job done. Noah is com­ing along. He’s pro­gress­ing well. Don’t know the time ta­ble on his in­jury, but un­til then we’re in good hands. Bray­den’s get­ting used to play­ing quar­ter­back again, but we’re go­ing to be okay.”

Al­covy tried to mount a last gasp drive to get back into the game af­ter Harper’s 12-yard touch­down run, but a deep An­der­son pass to the end­zone was picked off by East­side’s Ja­mari Brown, seal­ing the Ea­gles’ win.

As most true ri­val­ries are, it was a dog­fight for most of the night.

Af­ter a de­fen­sive stale­mate through most of the first quar­ter, it was East­side fresh­man tail­back Quincy Cullins putting the Ea­gles on the score­board first when he found the end zone on a 15-yard run on a jet sweep.

Cullins made a nifty juke move at about the eight yard line that gave him a clear path to the goa­line and East­side a 7-0 lead at the 25-sec­ond mark of the first quar­ter.

The score stayed 7-0, Al­covy into the half and un­til Cade Mote nailed a 50-yard field goal for East­side to give the Ea­gles a 10-0 ad­van­tage at the 10:52 mark of the third quar­ter.

On the en­su­ing drive, Al­covy fi­nally found the end zone when An­der­son capped off a 14-play, 70-yard scor­ing drive by con­nect­ing with Fan­ning on a 19-yard touch­down pass. The point af­ter was no good, but re­duced the East­side lead to 10-6.

The East­side (2-1) win al­lowed it to bounce back from the tough 41-0 de­feat at the hands of New­ton last week ahead of next week’s home game against Lo­ganville. Al­covy (12) dropped its sec­ond straight as it will pre­pare to travel to McDonough to play Henry County (0-2) next Fri­day.

Hoff ac­knowl­edged that Fri­day’s win was any­thing but pretty. But he re­in­forced how proud he was of what he saw from his team.

“Our guys came out and fought, played hard and bat­tled un­til the end,” Hoff said. “And give credit to coach Edgar and that Al­covy squad. He’s got them play­ing good, hard, phys­i­cal foot­ball and they just keep get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. It was a dog­fight tonight. We just have to keep work­ing to get bet­ter.”

Mean­while, Edgar says his top pri­or­ity is to keep his team believ­ing in them­selves and the process.

“We’re be­ing tested,” Edgar said. “If we can come back and still be­lieve in each other and come to­gether, great things can still hap­pen for this foot­ball team. But right now, it feels like it’s us against the world. And if that be the case, bring it on. We’ll take it.”

An­thony Banks | The Cov­ing­ton News

Ju­nior Ja­mari Brown goes up to make the game-clinch­ing in­ter­cep­tion of a pass from Al­covy quar­ter­back Cameron An­der­son.

Photos by An­thony Banks | The Cov­ing­ton News

East­side run­ning back, Tyon Davis (21) makes a move to get around Al­covy’s Jakob Streeter (30) on his way to a big gain in Fri­day’s 16-6 East­side win over Al­covy.

Dee Fan­ning makes a div­ing touch­down catch late in the game for Al­covy.

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