"It feels good to win the district and come out and play the way we did,” East Side head football coach Roger Burton said. “Moving forward into the playoffs we have to do a better job of not committing penalties because that will really hurt us in tight games.”
With Friday night's regular season finale behind them, the Trojans will now focus on the 3A State Playoffs and the Kossuth Aggies who they will meet in the first round in Cleveland this Friday.
Kossuth finished fourth in Region 1-3A with a 3-7 overall mark and a 2-3 record in the region. The Aggies concluded their season with a 28-19 win over Holly Springs.
In Friday's contest with the Falcons, the Trojans running game was as powerful as ever. East Side came into the game averaging 277.5 yards rushing per game on the season. Behind the strong running of Quadre Butler, the team surpassed its season average going for 342 rushing yards and finishing the night with 444 total yards of total yards of offense.
"We really came out and moved the ball well,” Burton said. “We punted on our first series and didn't punt anymore the rest of the night.”
Even though a bad ankle hampered Butler some, it did not stop him from making his presence felt in the contest. The junior back finished the night with 185 yards rushing on 11 carries with two touchdowns. Butler also caught one pass for 39 yards.
"Quadre is the back I thought he would be when I came here. He's tough and he plays through pain. He runs hard and is a tough runner to bring down," said Burton.
To start Friday's game, both teams ended drives going three-and-out and punting the ball away.
The Trojans got on the board first with an eight-yard pass from Dy'monquae Pates to Brandt Williams with 3:31 left in the first. Pates added the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
The Falcons tied the game up with 10:05 left in the first when Devin Perry connected with Nelson Brown from five yards out. Perry added the 2-point conversion for an 8-8 game.
On East Side's next possession, the team was driving and a 30-yard pass-and-run from Jalen Thomas to Damien Lucas looked promising, but Lucas fumbled the ball as he was tackled by two Falcon defenders. The Falcons recovered the football and regained possession.
The Trojans’ defense stepped up following the turnover as a tackle-for-loss by Edgar Eatman and a sack from Williams followed by an incomplete pass forced a Falcons punt.
On the ensuing drive, Butler went to work busting big runs, including a 49-yard run to put the Trojans at the one-yard line. The play set up Johnny Russell perfectly as he rushed for the touchdown with 2:11 left in the second quarter. Russell added the 2-point conversion for a 16-8 lead.
Velma Jackson wasted no time going back to work after a short kick from East Side gave the Falcons good field position. Big runs from Emanuel Ross paid off as he crossed the goal line from six yards out with 1:06 left in the first half. The conversion attempt failed to put the score at 16-14 going into halftime.
East Side came out in the third quarter very aggressive with an onside kick that they recovered. A few plays later, Butler scored the touchdown. The conversion failed, but East Side led 22-14.
Velma Jackson came right back and drove the ball down the field off another short field. With 9:49 remaining in the third, Brown burst through the middle for a 10-yard touchdown run. Perry added the 2-point conversion for a 22-22 game.
The Trojans response to the Falcons touchdown was immediate as Thomas took the kickoff on the 20-yard line and returned it 80-yards for a score with 9:27 left in the third. Butler added the 2-point conversion for a 30-22 lead.
The return sparked the Trojans on both sides of the ball, and they did not look back.
Velma Jackson was forced to punt on its next possession, and Eatmon blocked the punt. Off the blocked punt, Butler scored from 27-yards out with 6:59 left in the third. Russell added the 2-point conversion for a 38-22 game.
With 3:31 left in the third, Pates scored on a 20-yard run for a 44-22 game. In the fourth quarter, Pates connected with Lucas for a 35-yard touchdown pass and Pates found Quadarrius Shaw for the 2-point conversion and a 52-22 lead.
The Falcons recorded a safety late in the game to make the final score 52-24.
Other offensive leaders for the Trojans included: Pates who rushed for 73 yards on six carries with one touchdowns and completed 3-of-5 passes for 63 yards with two touchdowns, Thomas who rushed for 51 yards on six carries and had a 80-yard kickoff return, Lucas who caught two passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, Williams who had an eight-yard receiving touchdown and Russell who added a rushing touchdown.
Eatmon led the Trojans defense with 10 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked punt. Michael Hurns and Vernell Baldridge recorded five tackles and a sack each for East Side.