COVINGTON – The Buccaneers spotted Graham and early six-point lead last evening on the Falcon’s home field; and then exploded with touchdowns in every quarter to capture their ninth straight victory, 48-18. Along with the win, the Buccs captured the 1968 Mad River Valley League Championship.
Figured as a pre-season darkhorse, Coach Larrie Tisdale’s state-ranked football machine has disposed of nine consecutive opponents, seven of the Class AA schools, and now remain only one game away from an unbeaten, untied season. The Buccaneers wrap up season play next Friday when they travel to Greenville for a non-league encounter with the Green Wave.
Despite their season’s record and Friday night’s final score, the Falcons played with “upset” on their minds, and although their 6-0 lead vanished quickly, Graham trailed the Buccaneers by only 10 points at halftime, being on the short end of a 16-6 score. The Falcons can take some consolation in the fact that they are the only club in nine outings this year to have scored three times on Tisdale’s tough defense.
A Phillip Simpson to Terry Zirkle 32-yard pass play put Graham on the Covington three-yard line and set up the game’s first score with 4:22 showing on the clock. Three plays later Zirkle scored on a sneak from one yard away, but a pass attempt for points after failed, but Graham had a 6-0 lead.
Following the kickoff, Bill Rudy and Terry Swallow spearheaded Covington’s sustained march of 69 yards, with Swallow tieing the score with a three-yard dive. Brad Barker passed to Herb Stevenson to put the Buccaneers on top 8 to 6 with only 45 seconds remaining in the first period.
After an exchange of downs, a Graham punt netted but one yard and Covington had a first and 10 on the Falcon 36. Swallow, Shilt an Rudy alternated runs, with Bill Rudy crashing the final five yards with only three minutes gone in the second period. Ed Shilt added two more with an end sweep as Covington went ahead 16-6, a score that prevailed at halftime.
Midway in the third period Graham narrowed the gap on a Zirkle to Lantz touchdown pass from the 11-yard line. The Falcons went to the air on the conversion, but the effort failed and the score stood Covington 16, Graham 12 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Graham’s fumble recovery in their own endzone gave Covington a safety and an 18-12 lead with 3:18 remaining, and two minutes later Bill Rudy found the endzone from seven yards out. Swallow’s run for points after fell short, but the Buccaneers started to pull away, 24 to 12.
Covington’s charging lineman blocked a Falcon punt early in the final stanza, which Graham recovered in the endzone, giving the Buccaneers another safety and a 26-12 advantage.
Graham recovered a Covington fumble on their own 34 and took the aerial route to score their final touchdown. Twelve plays after the recovery, Zirkle hit paydirt from the one. A pass attempt failed and the score stood 26-18 in Covington’s favor.
The Falcons’ on-side kick failed and Covington came up with the football on their own 45-yard line, and seven power plays later the Buccaneers were in the endzone as Swallow scored from the three. Bill Rudy added two more and Covington moved away 34 to 18.
In desperation, the Falcons kept the ball in the air, but with 1:33 remaining, Herb Stevenson picked off a Graham aerial and rumbled 33 yards for the touchdown. Barker then tossed to Stevenson and the Buccaneers widened the gap, 42-18.
Bill Rudy’s pass interception led to the final scoring as Ed Shilt crashed two yards with seven seconds left and the Buccaneers had a 48-18 triumph and the Mad River Valley League title.
FROM THE PRESSBOX:
Covington registered 21 first downs, Graham 10. The Buccaneers completed 3 of 4 passes, the Falcons 14 of 27, mostly for short yardage. Covington fumbled 4 times, losing 3, while Graham didn’t fumble at all. The Buccs were penalized 50 yards and the Falcons 32. If you’re not a believer and saved your clippings, go back and read the opening paragraph of the first game against Tipp City. College scouts have been in the audience as Tisdale’s precision machine is a pleasure to watch. Teamwork has been a vital factor. Next week 11 seniors will perform for the last time for CHS as the Greenville game could be one of the most memorable of the year.