COVINGTON,Ga. — Eastside jumped out to a 20-0 first half lead and then held off Flowery Branch the rest of the way for a 34-14 win in both teams’ Region 8-5A openers on Thursday.
The region’s best defense turned the game around on two consecutive possessions.
The Eagles led 7-0 with the Falcons driving in the first quarter when Jean Claude Joseph picked off a Brody Jordan pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. They forced a quick Branch punt on their next possession and E’sean Arnold capped off a quick drive with his second touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter for the big lead.
The Falcons (2-3, 0-1 Region 8-5A) cut the lead to 20-7 late in the second quarter on a 14-yard run from Myles Ivey.
Eastside (4-0, 1-0 Region 8-5A) put the game away with a pair of touchdown runs by Kenai Grier of 69-yards in the third quarter and a 4-yard run midway through the fourth for a 34-7 lead.
Branch got its final score on a 5-yard pass from Jordan to Seth Larson.
Branch managed 168 yards on the ground but were held to just 118 yards passing and picked Jordan off twice.
It was the third straight loss for the Falcons, who will play host to Clarke Central next week. Eastside will travel to No. 7 Loganville next week in a pair Region 8-5A games.