By Nathan Fry | Eastside Contributor
It wasn’t always easy for the Eagles on Friday night at Royal Stadium, but the team buckled down when they needed to and remained unbeaten with a 56-26 victory over Broome.
In a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate, Eastside struggled moving the ball on their initial drives while Broome connected on multiple big-yardage plays early.
CJ Littlejohn, the Centurions’ RB, kept the Eastside defense honest throughout the first half, but they were only able to muster 20 points through the first two quarters.
The main reason the Eagles stayed in the game was a strong early performance from the Eastside defense when they needed it most.
After the Eagles suffered a crushing interception at the 1 yard line — which the Broome offense turned into a touchdown after a long drive — the Eastside defense began to lock in.
Jamen Louris, the defensive star of the night, came up with a pivotal pick-six that gave Eastside a 14-7 lead. Louris now has three pick-sixes through four games this season. Big interceptions continued to be a theme for the Eagles, as Louris grabbed his second of the night inside his own 20 yard line, ripping it out of the hands of a Broome wide receiver as the two players fell to the ground.
That play changed the game, with the turnover leading to another Eastside touchdown making it 21-14, a lead that they wouldn’t give up for the rest of the game.
“Our defensive coordinator, Coach Ford, made some adjustments at the half,” said Eastside head coach Andre Woolcock. “We had some coaches challenge our guys. We said ‘Look, we have some goals we want to set, and we’re not gonna meet those goals if we’re playing this way.’”
The adjustments made at halftime were immediately evident. Both the offense and defense erupted to start the second half, as the Eagles scored two quick touchdowns and forced a turnover in the opening three drives. “On both sides of the ball, those kids met the challenge set by each coach on this staff. That just means a lot to us moving forward.”
Eastside has used its special teams to pull away from their opponents throughout every game this year. Their contest against Broome was no different.
Following a bruising 18-yard touchdown run from Littlejohn, the Eagles’ defensive line got the push they needed to get a hand on the extra point, blocking it as soon as it came off the foot of the kicker. This allowed Eastside to take a 21-20 lead into halftime.
With over 50 points on Friday night, the Eagles now average over 50 points per game. “It feels good,” said Coach Woolcock. “You know, the name of the game is score more points than the next team, so as long as we’re doing that I’m a happy man.”
The offense aired it out against the Centurions, posting over 350 yards passing, along with multiple touchdowns, though uncharacteristic turnovers marred the offense as well. Strong offensive performances have been a staple of the Eagles’ season so far, so it was no surprise to see them show up in the second half after a less than stellar opening frame.
In his postgame interview, Coach Woolcock praised his team and staff, saying “These kids work hard. They know what they need to do to get over that hump and that’s what they were able to do tonight. They played really well in the second half. Without those guys, the assistant coaches, the players… they’re the reason we’re a 4-0 program right now. We’re definitely not having the success that we’re having right now without them.”
Coach Woolcock and the Eagles now prepare for a tough out of conference game against AAA opponent Chapman next Friday night at home.
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