By Nathan Fry | Eastside Contributor
John Carlisle Stadium played host to a region-altering game on Friday night, with one-loss Eastside facing undefeated Travelers Rest.
Last season, the Eagles and Devil Dogs battled into overtime, with Eastside winning by a single point. This year, the contest was a back and forth battle that was decided by a late penalty, giving Eastside a 45-34 win.
The game opened with a kickoff return for a touchdown by the Devil Dogs, starting the shootout with a bang. However, Travelers Rest missed the extra point wide, giving an early lifeline to Eastside who could only muster a field goal in the opening quarter.
The second quarter would see four lead changes, with scores coming from both the passing and rushing attacks for both sides. On the night, both teams were fairly balanced and didn’t throw the ball deep as much as the two sides have in previous weeks. Max Louris was Eastside’s powerhouse in the backfield all night, moving the chains and scoring four total touchdowns.
Trailing at halftime 20-17, Eastside needed a spark to open the second half. Kodi Jones did just that by returning the kick across the 50, and scoring several plays later on a pass up the middle of the field. This swung the momentum in Eastside’s favor, and despite allowing two more touchdowns on the night, they never gave up the lead for the rest of the game.
Special teams played a pivotal role in the field position battle, as the Devil Dogs’ punting unit gave the Eagles a shorter field than they would’ve hoped for multiple times. They also attempted two onside kicks, losing the first and recovering the second. The recovery would lead to a big fourth down stop by the Eagles, with Louris’ 3rd score of the night effectively ending the comeback hopes for Travelers Rest soon after.
With the ball at the 35-yard line, up by four, Eastside lined up for a fourth down conversion attempt with only five yards to gain. Eastside quarterback Marshall Skoloff rolled away from the pressure to his right, and threw the ball downfield to the sideline. Travelers Rest broke the pass up, but the refs called pass interference, giving Eastside the first down and the opportunity to run the clock out. Louris would score his fourth and final touchdown several plays later.
With a game that became more chippy as time went on, it wasn’t surprising that flags would have to be thrown to control the game. During the final minute of the fourth quarter Eastside drew four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including three on one play. “We’re gonna enjoy this weekend, enjoy this win,” said Coach Woolcock, “but we have some things in this program that we need to fix— things that are unrelated to football. You can’t have that.”
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