|Jordy Meyer had another solid defensive showing for the Buccs.
OCTOBER 2, 2009 - COVINGTON
Covington coach Dave Miller didn't get much sleep this week because he was worried about a dangerous Twin Valley South team.
"South had me worried all week," said Miller. "They're talented and very well coached. I have all the respect in the world for Jason (Schondelmyer) because he always has a great game plan. I was very worried this week."
Miller had reason to worry, at least for much of the first half, as South matched Covington big play for big play for a 14-14 tie midway through the second quarter.
But Covington closed out the first half with two big touchdowns, both coming on plays outside of the tradition triple option offense Covington runs.
With 6:02 left in the half Isaiah Winston hit Garrett Clark over the middle for a 62-yard touchdown pass.
Just two minutes later Tyler Noffsinger threw a halfback pass to freshman Gabe Mohler for a 29-yard scoring strike and then Isaiah Winston connected with Noffsinger on a shuffle pass that went for 17 yards and a score on a fake field goal attempt with one second left in the half.
"That (the shuffle pass) was big, really big," said Miller. "We sort of took it away from them in the second quarter (with 28 points)."
It was especially big after South responded from two earlier Covington touchdowns by Garrett Clark.
Clark opened the scoring on the third play from scrimmage as he broke loose for an 85-yard touchdown run and then opened the second quarter with a 33-yard run.
But South responded each time, first with a 60-yard pass from Miles McCollum to Skylar Ruckers and then a 48-yard run by McCullom.
"That Ruckers kid is as good of a player we'll see," Miller praised. "Their quarterback (Miles McCullom) is really good. They have some good athletes on that football team."
South used those athletes to take advantage of Covington's youth on the edges with quick passes in the flats and timely option runs around the corners.
"They came after our younger guys a good bit," Miller explained of the 336 yards of offense surrendered by the Buccaneer defense. "We had three freshman out there on defense and they came after them. That's not an excuse, but we are young in the secondary. We just have to do a better job of coaching those kids up to where they can defend some of those things a little better."
The younger players did make the necessary adjustments as the game went on.
"The kids defended what they were throwing at us much better in the second half," Miller continued. "The experience these kids are getting is valuable and they are improving every day."
Covington did surrender a third touchdown to South on the opening possession of the second half as Ruckers broke free from 24 yards out.
But Covington shut the Panther offense down the rest of the way.
"We gave up too many big plays tonight," Miller said. "But we'll get better. Like I said, we have some young kids out there that are still learning, but could see the improvement later in the game."
While the Buccaneer defense found its groove, the offense continued to roll as Covington put three more touchdowns on the board in the second half.
And all three came from Garrett Clark in different fashions as the senior ran one in from three yards out, ran another in from 59 yards away and intercepted a pass for a 65-yard touchdown.
Clark ended the game with six touchdowns, 237 yards rushing and 63 yards receiving.
"Garrett ran hard," said Miller. "My favorite run was in the fourth quarter when we missed blocking the linebacker and Garrett ran him over for a 3-yard gain. That right there is the way you run the football. You run it hard and you run it with an attitude."
It wasn't only Clarks productive running that please Miller. It was his all-around play.
"He did it all," Miller continued in his assessment of Clark. "Offense, defense and special teams play. He showed senior leadership tonight, which is what we are looking from him."
Clark wasn't the only Buccaneer back with a big game as Tyler Noffsinger rushed for 186 yards, threw a touchdown pass and caught another one.
"Our offensive line did a good job of giving our backs running lanes," Miller explained. "I felt we controlled the line of scrimmage."
And, quarterback Isaiah Winston continues to grow as the general of the offense in the absence of starting signal caller, Jake Bitner.
"Isaiah is getting better every week," said Miller. "He definitely comes to play. His passing has improved because he's patient and finding the open receivers. He's starting to understand how to execute this offense."
With Winston's improvement, it makes for a dangerous combination once Bitner returns from his injury.
"When Jake gets back we'll have two quarterbacks who can run this offense," Miller continued. "That opens up so many more things for us. Plus, it gives us a very good Z Back (which is Winston's natural position)."
At the end of the day Miller can sleep better knowing his team continues to grow with each outing.
"For us to win the way we did, I'm very proud of these kids," he said. "We're improving a great deal each week and that's what you want to see at this point of the season. If we can keep improving and get some of our guys healthy, we can be pretty good."
Pretty good is what Covington was tonight with 598 yards off offense and a 56-20 victory.
It all improves the Buccs to 4-2 overall and 4-1 in the CCC with a road trip to National Trail awaiting on the schedule.