|Garrett Clark runs for a Buccaneer first down against Miami East.
September 25, 2009 - CASSTOWN
Throughout the off-season a poster of Miami East celebrating on Smith Field after a victory over the Buccs last season hung in the Covington locker room. It was a source of motivation for a team that prides itself on the tradition of dominance past Buccaneer teams have had in the Cross County Conference - a dominance the Buccs looked to reclaim this season after all the hard work put in over the summer.
That dominance by the Buccaneers wasn't on display on Friday as Covington self destructed its way to a 28-21 defeat at Miami East - a second straight loss to the Vikings.
"Too many mistakes on our part," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "We didn't protect the football and we didn't finish. That will get you beat every time."
The game couldn't have started any worse for the Buccs as Tyler Dunivan broke loose on Miami East's opening drive with a 64-yard touchdown right through the heart of the Buccaneer defense.
Then Covington fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Vikings the ball 40 yards from the end zone.
And Miami East took advantage on a one-yard run by quarterback Dalton Saylor to push the lead to 13-0 after the kick failed with 4:52 left in the first quarter.
"It hurts when you are down by two scores before your offense even gets on the field," said Miller.
Covington responded on its first offensive possession with a time consuming drive that was gapped by a three-yard run by Garrett Clark. The point-after by Ben Christian cut the margin to 13-7.
But Miami East took the momentum back with a run oriented drive of its own as Tyler Dunivan carried the load before scoring his second touchdown of the night on a five-yard run. Dunivan followed with the two-point conversion run to push the lead to 21-7 at the half.
The Viking senior closed out the first half with 106 of his 115 rushing yards.
For Covington, two missed opportunities in the first half to put points on the board made things even worse. On both occasions a receiver was wide open behind the Viking defense, but the Buccs failed to make Miami East pay for its defensive lapses.
"We had two guys open where we felt we had sure touchdowns if we execute the plays," Miller explained. "The one was just an under-thrown ball, but the halfback pass was a perfect throw where the receiver just stopped running. You have to make those type of plays in those situations."
Still, Covington did everything it could to put itself in position to win the game in the second half.
First, the defense held Dunivan to just nine second half yards and, more importantly, held the Viking offense out of the end zone.
Second, the Buccaneer offense picked up the pace by driving for a third quarter score by Garrett Clark and a game-tying score by Tyler Noffsinger early in the fourth quarter.
But on the ensuing kickoff after Noffsinger scored, the Vikings struck gold with a 65-yard kickoff return for the touchdown and a 28-21 lead.
"That (the kickoff return) hurt," said Miller. "We had all the momentum with the game at 21-21 because we were controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock. Then we let him (Jared Brown) go right up the middle for a touchdown. That was disappointing."
Covington still had its chances to regain the momentum as it drove twice inside the Viking 20-yard line.
Each time the Buccs were turned away, the final time in the closing minute of the contest on a fourth-and-three inside the ten.
"We did exactly what we needed to do (in the second half), but we didn't finish," Miller said. "You work so hard to get down there (in scoring position), you have to find a way to finish. We didn't get it done."
Covington out gained Miami East 334 to 187 in total yards and was sparked by a 198-yard effort by Tyler Noffsinger.
But the difference in the game was the four fumbles lost by the Buccs, the untimely penalties that stalled potential scoring drives and the big plays turned in by Miami East's Tyler Dunivan and Jared Brown.
It all resulted in another disappointing loss to the Vikings - one that will sting for another year.