SEPTEMBER 24, 2021 – COVINGTON
First year Buccaneer coach Austin Morgan has a really solid grasp of his young football team and it showed on Friday under the Smith Field lights.
“We still have a lot of growth ahead of us, but I really like where we are at right now,” Morgan said. “I know it sounds weird saying that, but these kids are fighting. They were getting after it – sticking their nose in the fan – they were just going.”
Many will look at the final score 49-6 in favor of Northridge and question Morgan’s assessment of his team, but those opinions don’t matter.
That’s because Covington has taken a step forward each and every week, except for one night against Troy Christian two weeks ago.
Friday, Northridge was just at another level athletically and in experience.
“Northridge is a good football team,” praised Morgan of the opponent. “Their running back is a stud and we knew that coming in.”
The Northridge back Morgan was referring to was senior Kavonte Turpin, who entered the game leading the Three Rivers Conference with 821 yards rushing.
Turpin torched the Buccaneers for 235 yards on 11 carries and scored three times.
“We prepared for him (Turpin) all week,” continued Morgan in his praise of Turpin. “And the kids were in position to make plays, but he is just so elusive. We won’t see another back like that the rest of the year – at least I hope not.”
Covington received the opening kickoff, but was forced to punt after moving the ball to near midfield.
The Polar Bears took advantage of a nice punt return and scored the game’s first points on a 24-yard run by Jayden Kelly.
Northridge then picked off a Covington pass on the first play of the ensuing possession and scored two plays later on a nine-yard run by Turpin – who was just heating up.
Down 14-0, the Buccaneers put together their most impressive drive of the season – driving 65 yards in ten plays. The drive was capped by a four-yard run by freshman Izaiah Sherman, who stiff-armed a Northridge defender to reach pay dirt.
The drive ignited the Covington defense as freshman Garrett Leistner forced a fumble that was recovered by Brian Morrison to haunt a Polar Bear drive at the Buccaneer thirty.
Unfortunately the Buccaneers couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and were forced to punt the ball back to Northridge.
And the Polar Bears were able to capitalize with a 15-yard run by Turpin to push their advantage to 21-6 with 5:19 left in the first half.
Covington moved the ball well on the ensuing possession and appeared well on its way to a score, but failed to convert on a fourth-and-two deep inside Northridge territory.
Northridge move the ball to near midfield, but back-to-back penalties moved the ball back to its own 23.
But it took just one play for Northridge to get out of trouble as Turpin found a crease up the middle and quickly broke to the outside for a 77-yard scoring run to put the Polar Bears up 28-6 at the break.
“We moved the ball pretty well, but had a couple of drives spur out a little bit, especially in the first half” Morgan said.
Northridge scored three more times in the second half, while Covington saw two scoring opportunities slip away with dropped passes and an untimely fumble on the Northridge side of the field.
But throughout the entire contest there was no letup in effort or intensity from the kids in Covington uniforms.
“We are not there yet,” Morgan said. “We’ll get there with the growth process.”
The final score may not show it, but there was some significant growth Friday.
“I told the kids that I’m good with the Buccs today,” said Morgan. “I don’t think anyone can question the toughness of our kids today. We just lost to a better football team, but we are headed in the right direction.”
Covington drops to 1-5 on the season and 1-2 in the TRC. Next week the Buccs look to take another step forward at Milton-Union.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
BUCCS – 0 – 6 – 0 – 0 = 6
BEARS – 14 – 14 – 7 – 14 = 49
NR: Jayen Kelly 24-yd run (Kick Blocked)
NR: Kavonte Turpin 9-yd run (2-pt conversion good)
COV: Izaiah Sherman 4-yd run (Kick Failed)
NR: Kavonte Turpin 15-yd run (Kick Good)
NR: Kavonte Turpin 77-yd run (Kick Good)
NR: Jeremy Henry 2-yd run (Kick Good)
NR: Taron Hill 26-yd run (Kick Good)
NR: Teon Hill 23-yd run (Kick Good)