The East Jackson football program has experienced its share of hardships over the last decade. None of that mattered Friday (Sept. 17) at East Hall.
The Eagles dominated the Vikings 56-27. The 56 points are the most scored by the Eagles since a 56-27 win over Union County in 2009.
"The kids just had a ball," said third-year head coach Cameron Pettus. "They were excited, there was great energy. It goes back to our senior class being such good leaders and good kids, and building the foundation.
'We love each other so much. Everyone is so invested and cares so deeply for each other that when they see their brothers out there having fun on the field, they get excited on the sideline. They feed off each other and it's really a lot of fun."
Quarterback Tyler Crow did the most damage to East Hall's defense, rushing for 246 yards and passing for 47 more. He accounted for four of the Eagles' eight touchdowns. As a team, East Jackson rushed for a whopping 395 yards.
"He continues to grow and thrive," Pettus said. "It's fun to watch, fun to coach, he's just a great kid."
East Jackson (2-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAA) was first into the end zone with a 3-yard touchdown run by Quay Hill, putting the Eagles up 7-0 early. An interception by East Jackson’s Brayden Hill with 52 seconds left in the first quarter put the Eagles back in scoring position. With no time left on the clock, Gary Maddox completed a 20-yard touchdown run.
Early in the second quarter, East Hall (1-3, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA) scored on a 6-yard touchdown run, making the score 14-6. East Jackson, however, came back quickly with a 60-yard touchdown run from Marques Greene.
Later in the half, the Vikings completed a 30-yard touchdown run, followed by a successful 2-point conversion to cut the Eagles’ lead to 21-14.
Hill found the end zone for the second time on Friday with 6:42 left in the half on an 11-yard touchdown run. This was quickly followed by a 12-yard touchdown run by Crow.
The Vikings finally scored again on an 18-yard touchdown run with 1:40 left in the half. Immediately after, Talan Jackson returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, putting East Jackson up 42-21. East Jackson regained possession with enough time for one more first half touchdown and with 36 seconds on the clock, Crow scored again on a 52-yard touchdown run.
The third quarter ended up scoreless, thanks to East Jackson’s Corvin Gillespie batting down the Viking’s touchdown pass attempt.
With 10:37 left in the game, Crow scored once more on a 27-yard touchdown run, putting the Eagles up 56-21. The Viking finished up the night with a 16-yard touchdown run to make the final score 56-27.
"Our offensive line did a fantastic job," Pettus said. "Coach Harrison, who is our offensive line coach, and our offensive line did a wonderful job moving the front. [East Hall] had an eight-man box and they were blitzing at times, but our guys did a great job getting their heads up and getting bodies on bodies. You can't say enough about the offensive line. When things go well, it's usually a credit to your linemen.
"It was a good team effort. Our wide receivers stepped up too... [East Hall's] quarterback is really good, give credit to our defensive staff and the game plan they put in place. Our kids were executing it."
East Jackson has this Friday off and will open Region 8-AAA play on Oct. 1 at Oconee County.
Pettus said the Eagles are going to use the off week to get healthy and brush up on fundamentals,. though the team will begin to work on preparing for Oconee County. The Warriors are undefeated and are back-to-back region champions across two different regions and classes.