Fresh with the stain of last year’s 16-14 loss on their jerseys, the Eagles were determined to wash away the black and gold blemish that marked their otherwise perfect 2011 when they won the 2A State Championship with a 15-1 record.
Things looked like it would be a different story as the Eagles led 12-6 at halftime, but as the Trojans have proven all season they are a second half team as they outscored the Eagles 24-8 in the second half for a 30-20 win. The Trojans improved to 4-0, while the Eagles, the No. 3 team in the Associated Press 2A Poll, dropped to 3-1.
“We had them right where we wanted them,” Trojans head coach Roger Burton said. “They were already starting to wear down and we were getting the ball after halftime. We came out and did what we needed to do. We where big and physical up front and went down and scored.”
West Bolivar head coach Henry Johnson felt his team wasn’t at its best.
“We did not look like a Rosedale team in the second half,” Johnson said. “Not to take anything away from East Side because they are a really good team and they made plays, but I did not recognize the Rosedale team that was on the field. They just came out and pounded the ball down the field on us and were more physical at the point of attack.
“We were not able to move the ball the way we needed to and we can’t live on the big plays,” Johnson added.
Trailing Rosedale 12-6 at the start of the third quarter, the Trojans came out on their first drive and marched on a 10-play, 61 yard drive that was highlighted by a face mask penalty on West Bolivar that gave East Side a first-and-10 on the 31-yard line after the Eagles had stopped East Side’s Taquille Eatman for no gain and what should have been a third-and-eight. The penalty put the Trojans within striking distance of the end zone. Trojan quarterback Jonathan Clerk-Beamon wasted no time in taking advantage of the Eagles’ mistake as he found Barron Burns for a 23-yard reception to put East Side on the seven-yard line. On the next play, Butler punched it in for the score with 7:30 remaining in the third. Beamon scored the two-point conversion for a 14-12 East Side lead.
The Trojans' defense forced the Eagles to punt on their next possession as East Side took over on its 34-yard line. Faced with third-and-six, the Trojans went back to the air and Clerk-Beamon found old reliable Burns on a 30-yard connection. On the next few plays, the Eagles’ defense stepped up and forced a third-and-four situation. Clerk-Beamon went back to the well and connected with Burns again for a five-yard grab and the first down. Four plays later, Burns moved from receiver to running back and marched on a 10-yard touchdown run with 11:52 remaining in the game. Clerk-Beamon connected with Kamien Lucas for the two-point conversion and a 22-12 lead.
The next two possessions for West Bolivar and East Side resulted in punts.
On West Bolivar’s second possession of the fourth quarter, things cranked up as Kylan Johnson found Dennis Pendleton on a 45-yard reception down to the Trojans 15-yard line. On the next play, Johnson found Pendleton on a 13-yard catch and run to the two-yard line. With 6:57 remaining in the game, West Bolivar scored as Kailo Moore launched himself over the pile for a two-yard score and scored the two-point conversion for a 22-20 ball game. During the scoring, Moore was injured as he ruptured a vein and was not allowed to return to the ball game.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles made the mistake of kicking a line drive right into arms of Lucas who was up on the kickoff to block. Lucas looked more like a full-time kick returner as he scampered for a 55-yard return down to the Eagles’ 15-yard line. A couple of plays later Eatmon broke loose on the right side and scored on a 12-yard run with 5:49 remaining in the game. Clerk-Beamon found Burns on the two-point conversion for a 30-20 game.
The Eagles had two different possessions after the Trojans last score, but both resulted in turnovers on downs, as the Trojans were able to run out the clock and take the game for the second consecutive year.
“It’s a great night to be a Trojan,” said Burton. “We wanted to come out and play Trojans’ football and we did that. Trojans’ football is being physical on both sides of the ball. Coach (Kendrick) Woodard had a great game plan for the defense and our guys stepped up and made plays. Barron Burns was outstanding, Beamon was solid for us tonight, Michael Hurns was Michael Hurns and we did what we had to do.”
Johnson said that although he’s disappointed in the loss, things have not changed for the Eagles.
“Our goals have not changed,” Johnson said. “We are still looking to win State Championships. We will look at the tape and go back to work to clean what we need to.”
West Bolivar struck first in the first quarter after Butler fumbled and Ladarius Tucker recovered the ball and returned it 29-yards to the Trojans 21-yard line. On the next play, Johnson connected with Moore on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 10:24 left in the first quarter. The kick after failed, and West Bolivar led 6-0.
East Side tied the game with 2:52 left in the first when Clerk-Beamon connected with Brant Williams Jr. on a 35-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion failed for a 6-6 tie.
With 3:40 left in the first half, the Eagles took the lead, as Moore broke free on a 45-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed, but West Bolivar led 12-6.
Moore led the Eagles with 93 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. He also caught one pass for 21 yards and a score. Kylan completed 9-of-19 passes for 160 yards and one TD to lead the Eagles’ passing attack. Pendleton caught two passes for 58 yards, and William Lloyd caught four passes for 48 yards to lead the Eagles’ receivers.
Lloyd led the defense with 19 tackles, followed by Rashan Conway with 11 tackles, Kawonski Williams with 10 tackles and Kebeon Clinton and Markel Green with nine tackles each.
Burns led the offense with five catches for 102 yards and three carries for 30 yards with a touchdown. Butler carried the ball 41 times for 120 yards and one touchdown, Williams caught one pass for 35 yards and a touchdown and Eatmon had carried the ball nine times for 80 yards and a touchdown to round out the offense.
Hurns led the Trojans' defense with 14 tackles, followed by Burns with 11.
East Side will return to gridiron on Friday to host Cleveland High School, while West Bolivar will host Aberdeen in Rosedale on Friday. Both games are set to start at 7:30 p.m.