|Brock Murphy returns an interception.
|Nathan Blei hurdles an Arcanum defender in the third quarter.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 - COVINGTON
Character is revealed through adversity and the Covington Buccaneers have faced their share of adversity early in the 2014 season and throughout Friday's contest against Arcanum.
But in spite of untimely penalties, fumbles and a high-energy performance by Arcanum, the Buccaneers' character came to the forefront with two critical defensive stops in the fourth quarter to preserve a hard-fought 14-7 win.
"Our defense was huge tonight, especially in the fourth quarter," said Covington coach Dave Miller. "The defensive stand at the end was huge."
That's because Arcanum took over the ball at its own ten after a Covington punt and then moved the ball to the Buccaneer 35 on a pass interference penalty by the Buccs.
But the Buccaneer defensive front of Robert Gengler, Ian Fries, Josh Earick and Brandon Magee took over by harassing Arcanum quarterback Daniel O'Donnell on four straight plays - the final play being a sack by Fries to end the threat on fourth down.
"Defensively, we played a lot better than we did last week," Miller said. "We gave up the big pass play there in the first half and gave up a couple of big runs, but overall we played well defensively."
The big pass play Miller referred to came after Buccaneer junior scatback Shane Straw gave Covington a big lift with a 42-yard burst to give the Buccs a 7-0 first quarter lead.
The Trojans responded with a 35-yard touchdown strike from O'Donnell to senior wideout Cole Burrell from 35 yards out on third-and-thirteen.
Covington then moved the ball near midfield on its next possession, but fumbled on the handoff to give Arcanum the ball in excellent field position.
"We're putting the ball on the ground way too often," said Miller after his team fumbled four times, losing two.
Fortunately the Buccaneer defense was able to prevent any damage and send game into the half tied at 7-7.
And the Buccs opened the second half by putting together the most impressive drive of the game.
Starting at its own 35, Covington moved the ball to the Arcanum seven. Facing fourth-and-one, the Buccaneers had two straight procedure penalties to move the ball back to the 17. But Miller and the Buccs pulled a rabbit out of the hat on a well executed pass as sophomore quarterback Nathan Blei found Ian Fries wide open down the left side for a 17-yard touchdown strike to push the Buccaneer lead to 14-7.
"At times we looked great," Miller explained. "When we took care of the ball and didn't have the stupid penalties, we moved the ball very well."
After stopping Arcanum on its next possession, Covington had a golden opportunity to increase its lead with another time-consuming drive.
Unfortunately, another penalty by the Buccs on third-and-short forced Covington to punt the ball away to Arcanum with just under 6:00 to go in the game.
Once again the defense held as Brock Murphy intercepted an O'Donnell pass to put the Buccs in position to eat up the rest of the clock.
But Covington couldn't do much with the ensuing possession and was forced to punt the ball back to Arcanum with just under 2:00 left in the game.
Covington then held Arcanum on three straight plays, but was called for pass interference on fourth down to give the Trojans new life.
After two incomplete passes, the Trojans moved the ball to the Buccaneer 35 on a pass from O'Donnell to Kory Baker.
Covington's Robert Gengler then took over with a huge sack, pushing the Trojan tailback into O'Donnell. Josh Earick then joined Gengler for a second straight sack and then Noah Thomas made the tackle in the backfield to make it fourth-and-23.
Ian Fries capped the evening with one final sack to preserve the 14-7 win.
"Our kids responded at the end," Miller said. "We're not where we need to be, but we're improving."
The Buccaneers even their record to 1-1 on the season and look to take another steep forward next week at Mississinawa Valley.