|Freshman A.J. Ouellette scored twice for the Buccs.
NOVEMBER 12, 2010 - PIQUA
Trailing 42-7 at halftime, it would have been easy for the Covington Buccaneers to pack it in and quit playing in the second half of the regional semi-final against Lehman on Friday.
But there is no "Q" in Covington or Buccaneers and the Buccs battled back to score a pair of third quarter touchdowns to close the gap to 42-21 and had the ball at the Lehman 15 to start the fourth quarter.
A motion penalty and a quarterback sack by Lehman put Covington in fourth-and-long. The Buccs came up short on fourth down to turn the ball back to Lehman.
"We made way too many mistakes against a good football team and it cost us," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "We moved the ball down the field there with a chance to cut it to two touchdowns and we shot ourselves in the foot. It's disappointing."
And the Cavaliers struck quickly on a pair of pass plays, both to Nick Cordonnier. The second one went for 39 yards and a touchdown to increase the Lehman lead to 49-21.
Still, Covington wasn't about to quit and moved quickly down the field for a 15-yard touchdown strike from Jake Stewart to freshman A.J. Ouellette to close the gap to 49-27 with nearly 6:00 left on the clock.
Needing a big stop, Covington couldn't get the ball back as Lehman picked up three first downs and took a knee to end the contest.
"I didn't see this coming," said Miller in regards to the way the Buccs lost. "We were really starting to gel there after last week (against Ansonia) and we had our best week of practice this week."
Nobody from Covington didn't see a complete collapse in the first half, as things were as bad as it could get for the Buccaneers, who self destructed on nearly every possession.
After forcing Lehman to punt on its first possession, Covington killed its chances at a first down on a muffed pitch on its second offensive play.
Although the ball was recovered by the Buccs, the tone was set for the first half.
Covington turned the ball over three times in the half, one via fumble, and interception and a blocked punt that was returned for a score.
In all, three of Lehman's first half scores came off of turnovers.
To make matters worse for the Buccs, three sure touchdown opportunities never materialized - all on pass attempts where the receiver was wide open with no defender between him and the end zone.
The first came on the intercepted pass as Jake Stewart was well behind the Cavalier defense only to have the ball thrown short of the target allowing the Lehman defender to make up ground and pick off the pass.
The second opportunity missed by Covington was a perfect pass into the end zone that was dropped by the Buccaneer receiver.
Lastly, Covington had a receiver open in the left flat on a perfectly executed play fake. The ball was thrown five yards off the mark where no defender was between Jake Stewart and the end zone.
"There was a lot of things there for us that we didn't capitalize on," Miller explained. "We knew coming in that they (Lehman) would give us some things that we could take advatnage of, but we were never able to make the plays when we needed them."
Failing to take advantage of opportunities killed Covington as the only points the Buccs could manage in the first half came on a 59-yard run by freshman A.J. Ouellette.
Meanwhile, the Lehman offensive had its way with Covington in the first half, scoring on six of eight possessions before heading into the locker room.
"Everything that could go wrong went wrong for us in the first half," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "And to Lehman's credit, they took advantage of our mistakes."
Still, Covington opened the second half with a well executed scoring drive that was capped by a one-yard run by quarterback Isaiah Winston.
After holding Lehman on its first possession of the second half, Covington moved the ball at will once again. This time it was senior fullback Cory Ely hitting pay dirt to close the game to 42-21.
The Buccaneer defense held true on yet another possession, giving the ball back to the offense with excellent field position.
And the Buccs had another golden opportunity slip through its fingers as A.J. Ouellette was wide open behind the Lehman defense only to have the pass thrown too high and out of his reach.
Covington ultimately turned the ball over on downs inside Cavalier territory and Lehman scored on the long pass to Cordonnier to pretty much end matters.
"You know, our kids never gave up and never quit," Miller said. "But a 35-point halftime lead is way too much to overcome against a good team like Lehman."
The defeat is a bitter pill to swallow for the Buccs as nine seniors saw their careers end after all of the hard work and commitment these kids gave to the program over the past four years.
Still, finishing 11-1 with all of the adversity these kids have faced throughout the year is a nice accomplishment.