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Coming into Friday’s game, East Hall had questions that needed answers — mainly, how to replace former running back Jamond Witt?
Friday night, they found their answer as the Vikings (2-1, 0-1 Region 7-AAA) defeated East Jackson 50-20.
East Hall was led by senior running back Austin Mahaffey, who led all rushers with 118 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Vikings also ran by committee as five players rushed for over 50 yards.
“What I’ve been telling the kids is in the past we have one or two kids and everybody waited for (that) one or two kids to do something,” East Hall head coach Bryan Gray said. “I’m like, ‘guys, we have five or six really good players. You make the play instead of waiting for somebody else to do it,’ and I think they took that to heart this week.”
East Hall junior running back Quay Jarrells rushed for 96 yards on seven carries. Junior fullback Edward Vergara continued his solid play, running for 69 yards and one touchdown.
After holding East Jackson to a three-and-out on its opening possession, Jarrells set up the Vikings at the East Jackson 8-yard line with a 31-yard run. The next play, Mahaffey scored on an 8-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead.
East Jackson’s next possession saw quarterback Austin Beauchamp run six times for 53 yards. Their touchdown came through the air when Beauchamp connected with junior wide receiver Drashun Upadhyay for a 7-yard score, giving the Eagles a 7-6 lead. It was their only lead of the game.
Less than two minutes later, the Vikings answered when sophomore quarterback Devin Watson connected with junior wide receiver Milton Whelchel for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
East Hall recovered an East Jackson fumble with 1:03 left in the quarter, and 62 seconds later, Vergara scored on a 1-yard run giving the Vikings an 18-7 lead.
“Amazing blocking, amazing blocking up front and they allowed big creases to open up all over the field,” Gray added.
In the second quarter, East Hall added onto its lead when Mahaffey scored his second touchdown. With 21 seconds left in the quarter, Vikings’ junior running back Dre Brawner scored on a 15-yard run, giving East Hall a 30-7 lead at halftime.
East Hall failed to convert on three 2-point conversions and missed two extra points in the first half.
In the third quarter, East Hall added to its scoring barrage. Watson scored his second touchdown, a 9-yard run. Running back Corey Reece scored the other on a 1-yard run.
Reece added East Hall’s last touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter on a 27-yard run.
“We played four quarters. We’re excited about it, play a good team and do what we did tonight, it was a really good feeling for the kids. We’re really proud of them,” Gray said.
Beauchamp had touchdown passes of 49 and 66 yards respectively, giving him a game-high 138 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Next week, East Hall is host to Johnson while East Jackson travels to Jackson County.