September 11, 2009 – COVINGTON
It was a special night from start to finish for the Covington Buccaneers in their home opener against rival Bradford. The Buccs honored former player and coach Doug Swartz prior to the game, recognized three new inductees into the Hall of Fame at halftime and topped it off with a 41-0 victory over their biggest rival.
“Our kids were jacked up and ready to play,” said Covington coach Dave Miller. “Hall of Fame night with all the tradition right there in front of you, if you can’t get up for that there’s something wrong.”
And prior to the game Miller invited four former players to talk to the team about the tradition of Buccaneer football. Those individuals were Terry Vogler and Dave Doseck from the great 1973 State Championship Team and Joe Schmidt and Dave Tobias from the 1979 State Runner-Up Team.
“Those guys coming in and talking to the kids just put us over the top,” said Miller. “The attitudes and the effort of the kids just went through the roof.”
Which was evident by the performance on the field right out of the shoot.
Junior halfback Tyler Noffsinger took the pitchout from quarterback Jake Bitner and outran the entire Bradford defense 70 yards on the third offensive play of the game.
Noffsinger then scored from three yards out and senior fullback Garrett Clark joined the party with an 11-yard jaunt to make the score 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
“We scored early and then Teddy (Hale) blocked the punt on their first possession,” Miller explained. “We go down and score again and we’re up 14-0 just like that. That (the fast start) was big).
Covington kept the peddle to the medal in the second quarter with three more touchdowns, beginning with a 54-yard run by Clark.
The Buccaneer defense got into the mix on the ensuing Bradford possession as senior Jordy Meyer stepped in front of a Railroaders screen pass and picked off Bradford quarterback James Canan for a 24-yard interception return for the score.
Clark then capped the first half with his third touchdown of the night – this time from 91 yards away for a 41-0 Buccaneer lead. The senior fullback ended the contest with 206 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns.
“Garrett has had three big nights in three games,” Miller praised of his fullback. “Tonight he did a good job of protecting the football and our offensive line just opened up some huge holes. He (Clark) never even got touched on a couple of those long runs and that’s a credit to the offensive line.”
Unfortunately for Covington, junior quarterback Jake Bitner was injured in the first half and watched the rest of the game with an ice pack on his ankle.
“It didn’t sound good,” said Miller in regards to the injury to his quarterback. “He’s going down (to the hospital) for X Rays tonight, so we won’t know anything until tomorrow. Hopefully everything works out in our favor.”
Fortunately the Buccs have a capable backup in sophomore Isaiah Winston, who led Covington on three scoring drives in Bitner’s absence.
“Isaiah is very capable of leading this offense to some big things,” Miller said. “I have total confidence in him, but he has yet to find that same confidence in himself.”
The second half was anything but exciting as neither team would find the end zone in a half filled with penalties and turnovers.
Covington was penalized 11 times for 120 yards and turned the ball over four times, while Bradford was flagged 6 times for 40 yards and had six turnovers – one via fumble and five interceptions.
“I don’t mind the penalties because for the most part they were aggressive penalties and that’s the way we play, aggressive football,” Miller stated. “But the fumbles are something we can’t live with. We have to do a better job of protecting the football.”
Still, Covington’s dominance at the line of scrimmage was evident as the Buccs racked up 457 yards on the ground and had two backs surpass 100 yards to complement the 206 yards turned in by Clark. Noffsinger recorded 147 yards on 11 attempts, while freshman Alex Baskerville tallied 105 rushing yards on 11 attempts – all coming in the fourth quarter.
“That’s impressive (to have three backs over 100 yards),” stated Miller.
Defensively, Miller was pleased with the effort as his team only surrendered 94 total yards to Bradford and recorded six turnovers – five of those coming from the young secondary, which has been under scrutiny from the previous two games.
“Our defense played pretty darn good,” Miller said. “That team (Bradford) has put up a lot of points and we shut them out. Our secondary stepped up tonight and played very well. We can build on this defensively.”
Recording interceptions for Covington were Jordy Meyer, Garrett Clark, freshman Kyler Deeter and sophomore Corey Haines, who had two thefts.
“This was a nice win for our football team,” said Miller. “Bradford has some nice, young players with a lot of athletic ability. Their quarterback is going to be a good one. They have a lot to build on for the remainder of this year and into the future.”
The victory improves Covington’s record to 2-1 on the season and 2-0 in the CCC, while Bradford drops to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
Next week the Buccs host Tri-County North for Homecoming, while the Railroaders host unbeaten Ansonia.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
BUCCS – 21 – 20 – 0 – 0 = 41
‘ROADERS – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 = 0
Covington: Tyler Noffsinger 70 yard run (Christian Kick)
Covington: Tyler Noffsinger 3 yard run (Christian Kick)
Covington: Garrett Clark 11 yard run (Christian Kick)
Covington: Garrett Clark 54 yard run (Christian Kick)
Covington: Jordy Meyer 24 yard interception return (Christian Failed)
Covington: Garrett Clark 91 yard run (Christian Kick)