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SEPTEMBER 24, 2010 - COVINGTON
There's a reason Covington coach Dave Miller pushes his football team to the breaking point through conditioning. When it comes to crunch time and the game is in the balance, Miller believes his team's conditioning will take over and lead his team to victory.
Which Miller believes it did Friday night as the Buccs claimed a 40-34 overtime victory over Miami East with a 20-yard touchdown run by Jake Stewart after the defense intercepted a pass on the Vikings' overtime possession.
"Our conditioning paid off tonight," said Miller without hesitation. "I felt we were getting stronger in the fourth quarter and in the overtime."
Covington, which was celebrating its annual homecoming, appeared to have scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes of regulation on a 30-yard run by Tyler Noffsinger. But a penalty negated the score, leading to the overtime session.
"We faced some adversity there (with the touchdown being called back)," Miller said. "But the kids stuck together and kept battling."
It was an offensive battle for the first three quarters as both defenses had trouble stopping the other team. It seemed as though the only time an offense was stopped it was of their own doing.
For example, Covington fumbled on its second offensive play of the game and Miami East recovered at the Buccaneer 24.
A few plays later Josh Snyder scored on a four-yard run and then kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Viking lead.
"We didn't have a very good start to the game," said Miller. "We turned the ball over and then let them score just like that. That was disappointing."
It took Covington two plays to respond, however, as Tyler Noffsinger returned the ensuing kickoff to the Viking 44 and then scored on the very next play on a sweep. Steven Blei knotted the score with the extra point and it was still early in the first quarter.
On Miami East's next possession, quarterback Colton Bowling connected with Chris Beckman on a perfectly executed play action pass to set up a four-yard run by Brock Smith.
Once again, Covington responded with a well executed drive that resulted in a one-yard run by Cory Ely to tie the score at 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
The offensive fireworks continued in the second quarter as Tyler Noffsinger broke free down the Buccaneer sideline on a 37-yard scoring jaunt to give Covington its first lead of the game 21-14.
But the "Whatever you can do, I can do better", theme continued as Miami East tied the score at the break on a one-yard run by Brock Smith.
"We have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball," said Miller. "That kid (Brock Smith) is a heck of a back and he ran hard, but we had kids out of position all night."
Smith did more damage to begin the second half as the Vikings marched down the field on its opening possession of the third quarter and scored on a seven-yard run by the junior speedster.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, the kick sailed left, leaving the score at 27-21 in favor of Miami East.
Not to be outdone by Smith, Tyler Noffsinger capped an impressive Covington drive on its first possession of the second half with a five-yard run and then Steven Blei gave the Buccs a 28-27 lead with the point-after.
"Tyler ran hard," Miller praised of his senior scat back. "He did a great job in the return game and also had some big plays running the ball on offense."
Covington, who had trouble kicking the ball deep all evening, finally kicked one in the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, leaving Miami East to start at the 20.
The Buccaneer defense held the Vikings to three-and-out, forcing a punt that senior Jake Stewart returned to the house from 63 yards away. But like Miami East had done earlier, the point-after sailed wide left, leaving the score 34-27 in favor of the Buccs.
Once again, Miami East responded as it returned the ball into Covington territory on the ensuing kickoff. A few plays later Josh Snyder burst straight through the heart of the Buccaneer defense for a 33-yard touchdown to tie the score at 34-34 after the successful extra point attempt.
"It was one of those nights," said Miller in regards to the scoring outburst by both teams. "If you would have told me they would score 34 on our defense, I wouldn't have believed it. Then again, if you would have told me we would score like that on their defense, I wouldn't have believed that either."
The defenses finally stiffened in the fourth quarter as neither team managed to score, although Noffsinger's did reach the end zone only to have the play called back due to penalty.
Miami East took possession of the ball to begin overtime and Covington's defense stopped the Vikings at the line of scrimmage on two straight plays to force a third-and-nine.
On the very next play the Vikings attempted to throw across the middle only to see Tyler Noffsinger pull down the one-handed interception to end the threat.
On the very next play the Buccaneers ran a double reverse and Jake Stewart took the ball to the house from 20 yards away to give the Buccs a 40-34 victory.
"That was a smart play by Stewey (Jake Stewart)," Miller praised. "It was designed to be a pass, but he saw the receiver wasn't open and took off. That was just a heads-up play."
The type of play Miller expects his seniors to make.
"Our seniors stepped up tonight," Miller continued. "Tyler (Noffsinger), Stewey (Jake Stewart), Josh (Boehringer), they made plays."
Big plays in all phases of the game, especially special teams.
"Going in we wanted to win the special teams battle and we did that," said Miller. "Tyler had some nice returns to give us field position and Jake had the punt return for the touchdown."
It all led to another Buccaneer victory as Covington improves to 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the CCC.
Miami East, who left it all on the field, dropped to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the CCC.