September 1, 2006 – LEWISBURG
Two pre-season favorites to challenge for the Cross County Conference title hooked up in the second week of the season in what turned out to be a classic.
The Covington Buccaneers overcame a 26-7 third period deficit to defeat Tri-County North 36-32 on a Gene Studebaker five-yard pass to Seth Mohler with 8 seconds left.
“The way we came back shows what kind of character these kids have,” said Covington coach Kevin Finfrock. “There were some times in this game when others would have packed it in. But these kids believed all along that they could win.”
Tri-County North dominated the first 20 minutes of the game as it built a 19-0 lead.
Matt Zumstein scored the game’s first touchdown from 10 yards out and quarterback Josh Linder followed with two straight touchdown runs of his own.
Covington finally got on the board in the closing minutes of the first half on a 24 yard pass from Studebaker to Mohler. Tyler Kanet converted on the point after to close the gap to 19-7 as the two teams headed to the locker rooms.
The host Panthers, who accumulated 329 rushing yards on the evening, took the opening drive of the second half into the end zone.
Zumstein ran in from one yard out to push the Panther lead to 26-7. The senior running back would end up with 198 rushing yards on 34 carries.
“We have some things we need to work on,” said Finfrock. “It’s little things that will become difference makers.”
When things looked bleak for the Covington faithful, a difference maker stepped up and took charge.
Senior Gene Studebaker led Covington on a 72-yard scoring drive. Corey Patty capped the drive with a four-yard run and the two-point conversion was successful to close the gap to 26-15.
After forcing North to punt in the opening minute of the fourth period, Studebaker marched his troops down the field once again.
This time the senior connected for the second time with Seth Mohler from 13 yards out. Patty ran in the two-point conversion and suddenly Covington was within striking distance, 26-23.
Again, the Covington defense held true on North’s next possession, giving the ball back to the Gene Studebaker and the Covington offense.
“We had a couple of big stops there in the second half,” Finfrock said.
After a third down completion to Seth Mohler, Studebaker took matters into his own hands by breaking loose on a 58-yard touchdown run to give Covington its first lead of the contest, 29-26. Studebaker ended the contest with 171 yards rushing on 14 carries and threw for 112 yards on 9 of 18 passing. He also threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.
“It (the comeback) started with the seniors,” said Finfrock. “Gene leads that group and made plays when we needed them.”
The Panthers showed character as well by making another run toward the end zone.
Sparked by a 45-yard run by Linder to put the ball at the Covington two, the Panthers took the lead right back on a two-yard run by Zumstein. The extra point failed to make the score 32-29 with 1:54 left in the game.
Which, was just enough time for Studebaker and the Buccs to work their magic.
Starting at its own 28, Covington implemented the 2 minute offense to near perfection.
Short passes to Mohler and Patty recorded first downs before Studebaker hooked up with Mohler for 35 yards to put the Buccs in scoring position at the 16.
A nine-yard run by Studebaker moved the ball to the five-yard line with just 18 seconds to play.
A run for no gain followed, forcing Covington to take a timeout with 12 seconds left.
Covington then went to the air for the game-winner as Studebaker found Mohler in the left side of the end zone. Kanet converted the final points of the contest to give Covington a thrilling 36-32 win.
“The biggest adjustment we made was playing tougher and being more physical,” described Finfrock. “We did a couple of things X and O wise, but we just executed better in the second half.”
With two straight wins against quality opponents to open the season, Finfrock is pleased to see how his kids respond to adversity.
“We were down and didn’t quit,” concluded Finfrock. “North is a very good football team and we hung in there and made some big plays in adverse situations. This is a big win for us.”
Covington improves to 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in the CCC, while Tri-County North drops to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the CCC.
Covington hosts Miami East next week.
Scoring by Quarters:
TC North ……6……13…..7……6 – 32
Covington …..0…….7…..8…..21 – 36
Tri-County North: Zumstein, 10-yard run (kick failed)
Tri-County North: Linder, 1-yard run (run failed)
Tri-County North: Linder, 8-yard run (Anderson kick)
Covington: Studebaker 24-yard pass to Mohler (Kanet Kick)
Tri-County North: Zumstein, 1-yard run (kick failed)
Covington: Studebaker, 11-yard pass to Mohler (Kanet Kick)
Covington: Patty, 4-yard run (Kanet Kick)
Tri-County North: Zumstein, 2-yard run (kick failed)
Covington: Studebaker, 58-yard run (Patty run)
Covington: Studebaker, 5-yard pass to Mohler (Kanet Kick)
First Downs – 17
Rushing – 224
Passing – 112
Total Yrds – 336
Total Plays – 56
Fumbles – 2-2
Penalties – 6-55
Gene Studebaker: 14-171-1TD
Corey Patty: 18-53-1TD
Gene Studebaker: 8-18-112-3TD-1INT
Seth Mohler: 4-89-3TD
Corey Patty: 2-8-0TD
Brock Iddings: 1-10-0TD
Drew Craft: 1-5-0TD
First Downs – 12
Rushing – 329
Passing – 115
Total Yrds – 444
Total Plays – 57
Fumbles – 2-1
Penalties – 3-25
Tri-County North Rushing:
Matt Zumstein: 34-198-3TD
Josh Linder: 18-83-2TD
Jimmy Anderson: 4-24-0TD
John Heeter: 4-20-0TD
Drew Heindl: 1-2-0TD
Brandan McAdams: 1-2-0TD
Tri-County North Passing:
Josh Linder: 5-12-115-0TD-0INT
Tri-County North Receiving:
Matt Furgeson: 3-49-0TD
Jimmy Anderson: 2-66-0TD