CLEARWATER — East Lake-Countryside is referred as one of Pinellas County's top annual rivalries, but the Eagles haven't exactly lived up to their end up the bargain.
They made up for it Friday night.
Visiting East Lake (7-0, 3-0) decimated the Cougars from whistle to whistle, racing out to a 13-0 first-quarter lead and never looking back until the 47-3 blowout was complete.
“We wanted to step on the gas pedal and just hold it down the whole game,” senior running back Weston Fordham said after his three-touchdown performance.
The win is East Lake's first in the series since 2007 and only the second in 10 years. It also sets up next week's home game against Pinellas Park for the Class 7A District 9 championship.
“They knew what was at stake and that it's become a big rivalry,” said East Lake coach Bob Hudson, “except for we haven't really competed with them.”
The Eagles did Friday, in all phases of the game.
Fordham rushed for 115 yards on 16 carries to go with his three scores and Clemson-commit Artavis Scott got to the end zone with a 5-yard rush and 17-yard catch.
Defensively, East Lake dominated the trenches and never allowed the Countryside attack to gain any momentum. The Cougars (5-2, 2-1) didn't have a drive of more than five plays until midway through the third quarter when the game was well out of reach. Kicker Martin Turowski produced C-Side lone points when he booted a 39-yard field goal late in the third.
The Eagles forced two turnovers – one returned for a 2-yard touchdown by George Campbell – and sacked Countryside quarterbacks four times while limiting their hosts to only 122 yards of net offense. With Campbell, Leo Jeter and Regis Steighner penetrating the line and linebackers Brendan Goettel and Carson Lyndon flying to seemingly every ball, the Cougars never seriously threatened all night.
East Lake quarterback Jake Hudson (7 of 14 for 146 yards) guided an Eagles assault that picked up 344 total yards and never punted all night. Hudson hit Scott with six of those completions for 110 yards.
The lone area of difficulty for East Lake came on special teams. Countryside managed to block two extra points and the Eagles missed a pair of field goals.
Considering their utter dominance of every other facet, those slip-ups were minor errors.
Finally taking out a rival is all that really mattered for Fordham. East Lake hadn't beaten Countryside since this year's current crop of seniors was in the 6th grade.
“It's really big,” Fordham said. “This is my first time beating them in four years here. It feels really good especially because this is a district game now. The last few years it hasn't been a district game, just a normal one in the season. Since it's a district game it just adds a little bit to the win.”
East Lake will try to keep its overall and league record perfect next Friday at home against Pinellas Park. The Patriots (7-0, 3-0) also remained unbeaten by blasting Clearwater, 55-6.
Countryside has to dispatch of Seminole next Friday before preparing for a big game of its own against Pinellas Park in Week 10. Barring a complete let down at Seminole, the Cougars' playoff hopes will hinge on their game with Pinellas Park.
EL - 13 – 14 – 13 – 7 --- 47
EL – Scott 5-yard run. PAT kick blocked – 1st Quarter (9:33)
EL – Fordham 2-yard run. PAT kick (LaCamera) – 1st Quarter (0:59)
EL – Campbell 2-yard fumble return. PAT kick (LaCamera) – 2nd Quarter (10:47)
EL – Fordham 3-yard run. PAT kick (LaCamera) – 2nd Quarter (6:33)
EL – Fordham 8-yard run. PAT kick (LaCamera) – 3rd Quarter (9:48)
CS – Turowski 39-yard FG. – 3rd Quarter (3:41)
EL – Scott 17-yard pass from Hudson. PAT kick blocked – 3rd Quarter (0:28)
EL – Swift 6-yard run. PAT kick (LaCamera) – 4th Quarter (7:01)
EL – Fordham (16-115, 3 TD), Scott (4-30, TD), Cuoto (6-47).
CS – Satcher (10-43), Mi. Johnson (8-34).
EL – Hudson (7-14 for 146, TD).
CS – Hicks (2-3 for 12), Chmelik (7-15 for 59).
EL – Scott (6-110, TD), Zettwuch (1-36).
CS – Cole (4-44), Kimbrough (2-18).