Defense ruled in the first round Division III, Region 10 high school football playoff game between Eastmoor Academy and Urbana on Friday, Nov. 4.
The Warriors limited allowed 15 yards rushing, forced three turnovers, scored a touchdown and earned their second shutout in a row and third of the season. The end result was a 14-0 victory.
“We always like to say that defense wins championships,” said Eastmoor coach Jim Miranda, whose squad improved to 9-2 and will play Clyde in a regional semifinal on Friday, Nov. 11. “Our defense played lights out tonight, kept us in the game and bailed us out at times.”
Eastmoor linebacker Brent Granger recovered a fumble in the end zone for the first score with 8 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“That play really gave us momentum,” Granger said. “Terrell Hudson hit their running back and knocked the ball loose, and I just fell on it in the end zone. It was a huge play.”
Granger pressured Urbana quarterback Nathan Mays all night, sacking him four times and picking him off twice.
Mays finished with minus-26 yards rushing. He completed 12-of-36 passes for 122 yards as the Hillclimbers finished 8-3.
Urbana’s defense did its job to keep the game close, not allowing a touchdown and holding the Warriors to 185 yards of offense.
However, it was Eastmoor’s defense that was the difference.
The Hillclimbers started five drives in Eastmoor territory, including a first-and-goal at Eastmoor’s 7-yard line, but couldn’t score.
“They had good size, but we were able to get pressure on them,” Granger said.
In addition to its three turnovers, Urbana punted seven times and turned the ball over on downs three times.
Khalil Hairston returned a punt 70 yards for the Warriors second score with 10:18 remaining in the first half.
“I caught the ball at the 30-yard line, got a great block from Jalen Crosby and just used my speed from there, made a good cut and was able to score,” Hairston said.
Eastmoor quarterback David Valdez completed four of 13 passes for 52 yards. He also rushed for 22 yards.
Devonte Butler led the Warriors with 100 yards on 20 carries.
Eastmoor’s Tahje Brown, who missed the last two games of the regular season with an injury, returned to play in the defensive backfield. Brown, who rushed for 773 yards and scored 10 touchdowns in the first eight games, also missed some practice this week because of a death in the family.
Miranda said the coaching staff was happy to get Brown back.
“It was great to get Tahje Brown back after two weeks out. It really helped us out. We could only play him on one side of the ball and we chose defense,” Miranda said. “We are a close knit group and everyone was playing for him and for his family tonight.”
Eastmoor has qualified for the playoffs four years in a row, but this was the first postseason win since 2008 when the Warriors finished as state runners-up.
URBANA 0 0 0 0 -- 0
EASTMOOR 7 7 0 0 -- 14
E—Granger recovered fumbled in the end zone (Booker kick)
E—Hairston 70 punt return (Booker kick)