By Ben Robinson
WEST ALEXANDRIA — The first half performance, combined with the first series of the second half was perhaps the best overall effort the Covington Buccaneers put together this season.
And it led to a 38-0 lead for Covington and Coach Cates elected to gradually turn the game over to the younger kids in a 38-16 route of Twin Valley South.
“I thought our defense played lights out,” praised Buccaneer coach Ty Cates. “That’s the best effort I’ve seen collectively on defensively for the whole game. We had some backups in there when they scored in the second half, but our defense played awesome.”
Covington didn’t allow a first down in the first half and held the Panthers to just 42 yards of offense at the break.
And the tone was set on the first play from scrimmage as senior linebacker Deron White picked off a Panther pass.
“The opening play of the game I just read pass and he just threw the ball right to me,” said White of his theft. “I just wish I could have stayed on my feet, but that play set the tone from the very beginning on what we were going to do.”
With the defense setting the tone, the Buccaneer offense fed off of the effort by scoring on every possession of the first half except for one – and that was due the one penalty Covington committed all night. Unfortunately, that penalty negated a Lance Miller touchdown run.
“Offensively we got out to a great start and put a lot of points on the board early,” Cates said.
Senior slotback Branden Robinson agreed.
“The offense was clicking pretty well on all cylinders tonight,” he said. “We were able to balance the run and the pass together and put up some pretty good points in the first half.”
After White’s interception on the opening snap of the game, Covington wasted little time talking advantage of the turnover as senior quarterback Nathan Blei connected with junior wideout Zach Parrett in the corner of the end zone from 28 yards out.
The Buccaneer defense then forced a three-and-out and the offense went back to work with the ball near midfield.
Runs by Deron White, Branden Robinson and a short pass from Blei to Tristin Sowers put the Buccaneers in the red zone. Lance Miller then took the pitch from Nathan Blei and raced untouched from 18 yards out only to see the run called back due to a holding penalty.
The drive ultimately stalled as the first quarter came to a close.
But Covington’s defense did its job by holding the Panthers to yet another three-and-out as sophomore defensive lineman Ian Wilson stuffed fullback Andrew Augspurger in the backfield on third-and-short.
After a short punt and a nice return by Branden Robinson, Covington set up shop once again near midfield.
A few played later Lance Miller ran untouched from 11 yards out through a huge hole by Seth Thomas and Eli Gerling to give Covington a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Covington’s defense then came up big once again by forcing yet another three-and-out as Zane Barnes and Bowen Swank combined to sack quarterback Mike Myers on third down.
This set up a 24-yard field goal by Nathan Blei to push the Buccaneer advantage to 17-0 midway through the second quarter.
From there the flood gates opened over the rest of the first half as Lance Miller scored on a 20-yard run and then Nathan Blei found Branden Robinson open for a 45-yard scoring strike on a fourth-and-nine situation with under thirty seconds left in the half.
At the break, Blei had already thrown for 202 yards and two scores.
“We scored a lot of points and got a field goal to go through,” Cates beamed. “It was a great night to be a Bucc.”
Covington received the opening kickoff of the second half and waisted little time putting the game out of reach as Lance Miller capped a well executed, methodical drive with a seven-yard plunge to push the Buccaneer advantage to 38-0.
From there Cates turned the game over to the younger kids as Covington cruised to the 38-16 win.
In all, Covington racked up 326 yards of offense with Blei throwing for 226 yards and nine Buccaneer players combining for exactly 100 rushing yards. Miller led the way on the ground with 49 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries, while Branden Robinson had four catches for 77 yards and a score and Zach Parrett had four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Twin Valley South accumulated 180 yards of offense, 138 of those coming after the Buccaneers had built a 38-0 lead.
The win boosts Covington’s record to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the CCC as it hosts National Trail (2-6 overall, 1-5 in the CCC) next Friday in the home finale.