|Jakob Hamilton hauls in a pass.
|Gavin Swank fights for yardage against Minster.
By Rob Kiser
NOVEMBER 5, 2020 - COVINGTON
It may not have ended the way the Covington football team hoped.
But, it was a chance to complete a 10-game season - and get the Covington seniors one final night at Smith Field.
Which is saying a lot in a season affected by Covid-19.
“We were blessed to get the season in,” Covington coach Ty Cates said after his team closed at 5-5 with a 16-14 loss to Minster Thursday night. “It is not often you can finish the season with a win without winning a state championship. That is what we were hoping for tonight, but we weren’t quite able to make it happen.”
Covington had two opportunities to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
First, quarterback Jensen Wagoner had a 71-yard run on a second-and-18 play to give Covington a first down on the Minster 11-yard line.
But, a penalty put Covington in a second-and-23 from the 24-yard line and the Buccs would turn the ball over on downs.
On the Minster possession, Tyler Owns recovered a Wildcat fumble on the Minster 41.
But, a holding penalty immediately put Covington in a first-and-22 and the Buccs would have to punt.
Minster got the ball back with 5:22 on the clock and would use the running of quarterback Johnny Nixon and running back Austin Kaylor to run out the clock.
Kaylor converted a fourth-and-one from his own 27 with a seven-yard run and Covington would never get the ball back.
“It is a game of inches,” Cates said. “We had opportunities.”
Covington had gotten the ball to start the game, but turned the ball over on downs.
Minster put together a 10-play drive with Kaylor running it in from five yards out. Nixon passed for the two-point conversion and the Wildcats led 8-0.
Covington answered with a 68-yard drive as Deacon Shields broke loose for a 59-yard run along the left sidelines for the score. Wagoner then passed to Owens for the PAT to tie the game 8-8 with 1:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
“Deacon (Shields) did a great job getting outside and we did a good job blocking,” Cates said.
Minster then went 65 yards in three plays with Nixon throwing a 53-yard TD pass to Chase Couse. Nixon ran for the PAT and the Wildcats led 16-8 with 17.1 seconds left in the quarter.
Jakob Hamilton ended the next Minster drive with an interception in the end zone and it appeared Covington would score on its next drive.
After a long pass completion from the 50-yard line, the ball was fumbled into the end zone and Minster recovered.
Covington took advantage of a three-yard punt and took over at the Minster 24 with 1:11 remaining in the half.
On third-and-goal from the five, Grant Babylon — normally the center — lined up in the backfield.
The 325-pounder bulled his way into the end zone to cut the deficit to 16-14. Babylon tried to run for the PAT and nearly got in the end zone again before being stopped just short.
“We always try to get our lineman a touchdown when we can,” Cates said. “So, that was great to see.”
After the offensive explosion in the first half, there would be no scoring in the second half as Minster held on for the win.
Wagoner rushed for 111 yards on 11 carries and threw for 122 yards, completing 12 of 23 passes.
Shields finished with 61 yards on six carries, while Hamilton had seven receptions for 79 yards.
Kaylor had 109 yards rushing on 25 carries for Minster.
Nixon had 16 carries for 72 yards and completed three of eight passes for 73 yards.
It was the final game for Covington seniors Hamilton, Duncan Cooper, Shields, Cael Vanderhorst, Owens, David Robinson, Trentin Alexander, Gavin Swank, Babylon, Clayton Stephan Devan Newhouse.
“We wanted to get a win for the seniors,” Cates said. “We just came up a little short.”
In the final game of what has been an unusual season.