Eastside holds off Lanier in 8-AAAA matchup

Lanier's Taylor Grant (10)

Lanier's Taylor Grant (10)

COVINGTON -- Eastside narrowly avoided giving up a 20-point victory at Homer Sharp Stadium on Friday. However, the Eagles were able to hold off Lanier for the 20-14 win.

Eastside's (4-2 overall, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA) defense dominated Lanier (3-3, 1-2) in the first half as it did not give up a first down until the second quarter. Eastside gave up 39 yards of offense in the first half, all on one possession. Of Lanier's 19 first-half plays, seven resulted in 31 yards of negative yardage.

"We've got a young football team and it's our first year of region play," Longhorns head coach Billy Wells said. "What we've tried to do in the second half is get back to our fundamentals. When we do that we improve as a football team. That's what we talked about at halftime, that's what our kids came out and did,

"We're real proud of them in the second half. But we've got to rely on our fundamentals in the first half also."

The Longhorns found a weakness in the Eagles' defense late in the game. Lanier quarterback Taylor Grant, who completed 14 passes on 22 attempts for 267 yards, found Brandon Ramos for a 53-yard touchdown pass in the fourth period. Then poor tacking allowed Marty Sanders to score on a 96-yard pass play off a two-yard throw to make it 20-14 with less than four minutes left.

"They gave us some things we really hadn't seen," Wells said. "They had the bye week and utilized it to their advantage, both offensively and defensively. After the first two series, we made some adjustments as to what we thought we could do."

Eastside's offense failed to covert on a fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line with less than a minute in the game. The Longhorns moved the ball, but they couldn't get enough yards in a short amount of time giving the Eagles the win.

"We gave them a good run in the second half," Wells said "we just ran out of time."

Eastside got on the board first with a 37-yard field goal by Colton Smith. The Eagles marched down the field 58 yards, including a fourth-down conversion, putting Smith in position for the kick.

The Eagles' Alex Smith continued to be a driving force for the Eagles scoring on a four-yard run making it 10-0 early in the second quarter.

After a 35-yard touchdown run by Alex Smith was called back for holding, the Eagles put the points back on the board on a 35-yard pass to Cameron Boyd from Damario Terrell.

The Longhorns were forced to go three-and-out in their first three possessions before Grant and running back Tario Fuller got Lanier moving in the right direction. But all that came to an end when Eastside's James Russell sacked Grant for a 13-yard loss making it third and 24 on the Lanier 43-yard line forcing the Longhorns to punt once again.

Colton added three more points to Eastside's total with a 26-yard field goal midway through the third period.