|Josh Boehringer stuffs a Panther runner in the backfield for a loss.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 - LEWISBURG
Sometimes records can be misleading as evident by Friday's Cross County Conference matchup between unbeaten Covington and Tri-County North, who entered the game with one win in three tries.
And those expecting a Covington blowout victory came away surprised as the Buccaneers narrowly escaped Lewisburg with a 15-8 victory, scoring the winning touchdown with 2:30 left in the game.
"Ugly," was Covington coach Dave Miller's assessment of the Buccaneer's performance. "This was an ugly win and there's no other way to describe it."
Covington had a total of seven possessions in the contest, fumbling on two, turning the ball over on downs on one, punting on one, scoring on two and taking a knee on the final possession.
"The two turnovers were drive killers because we had the ball in good field position," Miller explained. "Before that, we drove the ball down to the one and turned the ball over on downs."
After forcing the Panthers to punt in the opening possession of the game, Covington consumed nearly 8:00 off the clock on its first drive. Starting at their own 35, Covington used 15 plays to drive to the Panther one before being turned away on fourth-and-goal.
"We didn't finish," Miller stated. "We put together a nice drive, converting on a third-and-long, only to come up empty."
Tri-County North had success of its own chewing up the clock in the first half, but never came close to the end zone. Covington's defense rose to the occasion on each of the Panther's four first half drives.
The Buccs had two more possessions in the first half, but each time turned the ball over via fumble, one coming on a potential touchdown run as the Buccaneer back had plenty of daylight, only to drop the ball without being hit.
"We weren't focused," Miller said. "We just didn't come to play. I could tell during warmups that the kids weren't focused to play four quarters of physical football."
Tri-County North was ready to play as evident by the emotion its team showed heading off the field at the half, players waving their arms to the home crowd in jubilation.
But Covington appeared to flip the switch in the second half as the Buccs took the opening possession and drove the length of the field for the first score of the contest.
The drive was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Cory Ely and then Isaiah Winston connected with Tyler Noffsinger for the two-point conversion after a Panther penalty.
Tri-County North responded in a big way, however.
Starting at their own 14, the Panthers put together a 16-play drive that chewed up the remainder of the third quarter and one minute of the fourth quarter to tie the score with a 13-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion.
"Give North credit, they came at us," Miller praised of the Panthers. "It was their home field and they came to play."
With its perfect record in jeopardy, Covington put together one last drive to steal the game.
After a nice return by A.J. Ouellette moved the ball near midfield, Covington methodically moved the ball down the field with a mixture of runs by fullback Cory Ely and halfback Tyler Noffsinger.
Finally, with 2:30 left in the game quarterback Isaiah Winston squeezed his way in from four yards out for the touchdown and a Steven Blei point-after kick made the score 15-8.
This left Tri-County North little time to work with as it had just over 2:00 left and no timeouts remaining.
Forced to go to the air, the Panthers couldn't connect and turned the ball over on downs with .36 left in the game.
Covington then took a knee to preserve its unbeaten record at 4-0.
"It's good to get the win, but we need to play better than this to beat Miami East next week," said Miller. "We have a big target on our backs and everyone is coming after us. Our kids need to realize that."
Miami East has beaten Covington the last two years, so there is plenty of incentive for the Buccs to come ready to play.