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EAST LAKE STYMIES TARPON RB GOLDEN

The Eagles' defense steps up for their first win of the season.

East Lake's season started with two agonizing losses, one coming on a blocked field goal as time expired and another in a second-half collapse that saw a lead slip away.

But the Eagles, diminished at 0-2, remained undaunted.

Facing its fiercest rival, East Lake still fought for everything that was left of its season Thursday night. And the Eagles somehow pulled together, kept their faith and fashioned a 13-3 victory over Tarpon Springs.

It was just the sixth time East Lake has won in the rivalry's 20-year history.

"We had our heads down a little bit," Eagles running back Jamaal Wilburn said. "Some people at our school didn't know if we could win. But we pulled together and did it."

With its season on the verge of deteriorating, East Lake rallied on all fronts.

The Eagles defenders corralled Tarpon Springs running back Adrian Golden, holding him to 75 yards on 19 carries. And they harassed Spongers quarterback Wyatt Wikle into two interceptions, the last by Justin Clarida that sealed the game.

On the other side the of the ball, East Lake was physical up front, paving the way for Wilburn to rush for a season-high 127 yards.

"We just kept plugging away, Eagles coach Bob Hudson said. "We were 0-2 and played two really good teams to start the season in St. Petersburg and Largo.

"But this was rivalry week and you don't have to do too much to get them motivated."

East Lake (1-2) started the scoring on a 42-yard field goal by Cameron Mitchell in the second quarter. The Spongers countered with a 27-yard field goal by Michael Hill to make it 3-3 at the half.

In the third quarter, the Eagles relied on their running game with Wilburn gobbling up huge chunks of yards. He capped off East Lake's first drive of the second half with a 22-yard run for a score to put the Eagles ahead 10-3.

The Spongers tried to rally, but had a field-goal attempt deflected by Chad Hall to nullify one scoring threat and had another stopped on downs.

Mitchell punctuated the unlikely story line for East Lake by nailing a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to make it 13-3.

That kick provided a rare burst of joy from the Eagles, who left bouncing and dancing off the field.

"This is a win we really needed," Hudson said. "Hopefully, it's the momentum builder that will carry us through the rest of the season.

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