Sports

Rams lose for second time in a row


Eastside quarteback Harold “Gator” Hoskins attempts a running play before being pulled down by Jones High defensive lineman Delroy Steele.

AARON E. DAYE/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 3:15 p.m.

The Eastside High School football team has lost two consecutive games for the first time in five years, and with a game against crosstown rival and highly-ranked GHS on the horizon, Eastside doesn't have long to regroup and get back to its winning ways.

Eastside plays GHS 7:30 p.m. Friday at Citizens Field.

The Rams (2-2) were defeated by Orlando Jones 12-7 Thursday night in a game that saw the Rams lose three-of-five fumbles, including one deep in Jones territory early in the game.

Eastside head coach Kent Johnson said his team is trying to find its identity, and he said though a winning tradition has been built at Eastside, each team has to learn how to win.

"Each year is a new group of players, and some of our players are trying to gain their confidence," Johnson said. "The best way to gain confidence is by winning."

The game began with Eastside defensive tackle Edward Warren recovering a fumble by Jones on the first play from scrimmage. Eastside got the ball on the 20-yard line, but did not take advantage of the opportunity as junior running back Saveion Gibson fumbled the ball right back to Jones.

The two fumbles in two plays were a harbinger for how the game would be played.

The teams traded punts throughout the first quarter before Jones (3-1) scored early in the second quarter on a 75-yard touchdown run by senior Travis Jones (10 carries for 107 yards). Eastside blocked the extra point, and the Tigers led 6-0 with 10:57 left in the second quarter. The two teams would not score the rest of the first half.

The Rams began the second half as it did the first half by fumbling the ball away to Jones. The Rams defense held Jones to no points, and Eastside got the ball back and put together a 70-yard drive that ate up almost six minutes off the clock. The drive began with a 10-yard run by junior Raheem Watkins, and it included a key third-and-long conversion from senior quarterback Harold "Gator" Hoskins to junior tight end Rodney Mills. Hoskins ended the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, and senior kicker Stephen Epstein put the extra point through the middle of the uprights to give the Rams a 7-6 lead with 3:28 left to play in the third quarter.

Jones regained the lead in the fourth quarter after driving deep into Eastside territory.

The Rams forced Jones into a fourth down situation, but was called for pass interference in the end zone, giving the Tigers a new set of downs.

The stingy Rams defense forced another fourth down situation, but this time Jones junior quarterback Angelo Warner (14-of-22 for 148 yards) found junior running back Steven Michel for a six-yard score on a swing pass with 7:04 remaining. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, and Jones had a 12-7 lead.

The Rams looked as if they were poised to come from behind and win the game like they have done numerous times in the recent past under Johnson. Hoskins hit Mills on a leaping fourth-and-13 play that gained 14 yards and a first down for Eastside. The Rams drove down to the Jones 16-yard line, and that is where the Rams ran out of gas as Hoskins was sacked on a third down play before throwing an incompletion on fourth down with 49 seconds left to play in the game.

"This was a really tough game, the kind you love," said Jones coach Kenard Lang, a former Miami Hurricane defensive end who was a 1997 first-round NFL draft pick. "It was great defense with two capable teams."

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