COVINGTON – The Covington Buccaneers battled extremely hard on Friday, but made several mistakes at critical times that led to a 35-14 defeat against Troy Christian.
The critical mistakes that cost the Buccaneers came on several third-and-long situations, three turnovers and untimely penalties that negated big plays to prevent potential scoring opportunities.
On third-and-long situations, three times Troy Christian scored when the Buccaneers had the Eagles facing third down with more than ten yards to go. One Eagle touchdown came on a third-and-eight and another on a third-and-one situation.
The Buccaneer defense played extremely well all night on the first and second down, but struggled preventing big plays when Troy Christian quarterback Paul McDonald rolled out of the pocket and found receivers open down the field.
The three turnovers by the Buccaneers halted potential scoring drives, one on a fumble and two on interceptions. Plus, the Buccaneers failed to recover an on-side kick by Troy Christian after the Eagles pushed their lead to 14-6 in the second quarter.
Troy Christian scored on its opening possession of the game on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Paul McDonald to Vaughn King on a play where Covington had the Eagles in a third-and-15 situation.
The Buccaneers responded with an impressive drive spearheaded by freshman quarterback Landin Cassel. Starting at their own 20, the Buccaneers moved the ball methodically into Troy Christian territory by mixing the running game with short passes that moved the chains.
The drive was capped by a beautifully executed pass from Cassel to sophomore Day’Lynn Garrett from 33 yards out. The point-after attempt was blocked, which left the score at 7-6 in favor of Troy Christian at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter has been Covington’s achilles heel all season and Friday was no different as things went bad for the Buccs once again.
First, freshman Parker Hoying suffered a serious leg injury where he had to be taken away by the rescue squad. The Buccaneer players were devastated emotionally and it took away all of the momentum Covington gained.
Then, after a long delay, the Buccaneer defense put itself in position twice to give the ball back to the offense on the ensuing possession, but an off-sides penalty on third-and-five kept Troy Christian’s drive alive and then the Eagles scored on a 26-yard pass play on a third-and-twelve play to take a 14-6 lead.
The Eagles then kicked an onside kick and Covington failed to pounce on the ball, which gave Troy Christian possession inside Buccaneer territory.
Once again, the Buccaneer defense put Troy Christian in third-and-long, but the Eagles were able to score on a 21- yard touchdown pass from Paul McDonald to Ryan Waltz to take a 20-6 lead.
Covington went three-and-out on its next possession and a shanked punt gave the Eagles great field position near the Buccaneer 40. Troy Christian capitalized by scoring on a 20-yard run to take a 26-6 lead at the break.
Troy Christian received the ball to start the second half and Covington stopped the Eagles on a fourth down play inside the 20. Unfortunately the Buccaneers couldn’t move the chains and was forced to punt after a three-and-out.
The Eagles pushed their lead to 33-6 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Paul McDonald to Lane Obaugh on a third-and-eight situation.
The score remained the same into the fourth quarter after freshman Filip McMaken picked off an Eagle pass. The Buccaneers then put together their best scoring drive of the season where they overcame three holding penalties.
And it was freshman quarterback Landin Cassel who started things off after the Buccaneers were faced with a second-and-25 situation after back-to-back holding penalties. Cassel connected with Day’Lynn Garrett over the middle near midfield for a first down and then ran the ball for two more first downs to put the Buccs inside the Eagle five.
The third holding penalty moved Covington back to its 15, but Cassel ran for 11 yards to put the Buccaneers at the four with another first down. Senior Derrick Meyer powered his way into the end zone to cap the drive and then Cassel ran in the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 33-14 with 7:23 left in the game.
Covington then attempted a squib kick to the left and had a golden opportunity to recover the ball after an Eagle player bobbled the ball. Unfortunately, for the second time, the Buccs failed to recover the ball, which gave the Eagles excellent field position once again.
The Buccaneer defense forced Troy Christian to punt and the Eagles booted the ball inside the Covington five. Moments later Troy Christian recorded a safety by stopping a Buccaneer runner in the backfield on a handoff.
Statistically, Troy Christian tallied 222 yards of offense, while Covington accumulated 204 yards. Covington had three turnovers and surrendered one onside kick, while Troy Christian had two turnovers.
The Buccs had nine penalties for 70 yards – one that eliminated an 18-yard loss by Troy Christian on a bad snap that led to what should have been a quarterback sack for Covington. Troy Christian had five penalties for 35 yards.
Overall, Friday’s game was Covington’s best overall effort of the season, but the difference was the mistakes the Buccaneers made that beat themselves.