Eagle’s Landing quarterback Bradley Dewberry (7) eludes a Riverdale defender on a first half run that set the Golden Eagles up for one of its four touchdowns. (Staff Photo: Jim Zachary)
McDONOUGH — Eagle’s Landing football fans, clear your calendars next Friday. The Golden Eagles are headed to the playoffs.
Bradley Dewberry threw for 145 yards and accounted for two touchdowns, and Corey Holloway 130 yards on 11 carries and a score, to power Eagle’s Landing to a 31-0 route of Riverdale in the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B play-in game.
The win gave the Golden Eagles just its second playoff appearance in school history, and a school record eight wins.
Coach Joe Teknipp’s team will look to matchup with Mary Persons next week in the first round of the state playoffs. But for now, he wants to enjoy what his team has accomplished.
“Right now at this point, this is the biggest game in school history for us,” Teknipp said. “We’re going to the playoffs, and we’re going in on a roll instead of just trying to sneak in the back door. It’s huge.”
Said Dewberry: “It feels great to do this tonight. And all the support from our coaches, the school, the teachers and community. It’s like a family here, and it feels great.”
The win was Eagle’s Landing’s fourth straight win. It’s only two losses in the season have come against a fifth ranked Stockbridge team and Class AA No. 1 Lamar County in just the second game of the season.
Even in those games, the Eagles looked competitive and ready to prove that it belonged in the state playoff conversation, which is why nobody at Eagle’s Landing is shocked at their shellacking of a good team.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised with this,” Dewberry said. “We were prepared from day one.”
Fellow senior, and Henry County High transfer Sedrick Palmer said he could tell his teammates were locked in during the days preceding the game.
“We had our best week of practice that we’ve had all year,” Palmer said. “We knew that we had to come together and if we did that and bond, we kept saying we could do anything.”
It was a matchup of what looked like two of the most potent offenses in the region — especially in the preseason.
But it was Eagle’s Landing’s offense that flexed its muscles early and often.
The Golden Eagles were relentless in the first two quarters, scoring on all four of their first half possessions, starting with running back Sedrick Palmer finding the endzone from 15 yards out to put Eagle’s Landing up 7-0 with just 3 1/2 minutes gone by.
After a Riverdale three-and-out, the Golden Eagles went to their ground game with an eight play, 51 yard drive which ended Dewberry plunged in from two yards to make it 14-0.
But when the story is told of Eagle’s Landing’s second playoff berth in school history — and specifically this game’s dominance — it will be one of defensive domination.
Riverdale had two legitimate shots at scoring in the first half on drives where quarterback Greg Taylor hooked up with his trio of talented receivers in Rashad Canty, Gerard Gober and Trey Sanders, driving the Raiders each time to 1st and goal on the one yard line.
The first one led to a 98-yard scoring drive that took just two plays — a 50-yard run by Holloway and a 48 yard scoring strike from Dewberry to Cymeon Burden.
“It’s a tough way to go out, but those kinds of mistakes have been the story of our season,” said first year Riverdale coach Terry Herrod. “We couldn’t stop beating ourselves. Turnovers and penalties in the red zone, and defensively just not getting lined up right. Those have been our vices all year, and it got us again.”
Eagle’s Landing surrendered just 130 yards of offense in the first half and recorded its first shutout since a 12-0 defeat of Maynard Jackson on Sept. 26, 2008 — Teknipp’s first season, and also the last time Eagle’s Landing made the postseason.
The Golden Eagles would add a six yard touchdown run by Holloway and a 32 yard field goal from Oscar Hernandez for the final tally.
With the win, Eagle’s Landing pushed its record to 8-2 and nailed down second place Region 4-AAAA, Div. A behind Stockbridge.
Riverdale’s record evened out at 5-5 — a disappointing mark for a team with lots of talent and high preseason hopes. Despite the loss, Herrod kept the tone upbeat with his first senior class as a head coach.
“It’s one of those deals where you just let the seniors know how much you appreciate all their contributions to this program,” Herrod said.
“As for Dewberry, he’s not ready to see his contributions as an Eagle’s Landing senior end.
“The difference from this year and last year, is we’ve got a strong senior class. We’ve shown a lot of maturity. And we’ve got some up and coming talent. Hopefully we can take this to the (Georgia) Dome.”