By Ben Robinson
UNION CITY — Coming off of two big games to start the season, the Covington buccaneers were looking to avoid a mental letdown and come out of the contest healthy against winless Mississinawa Valley on Friday.
And in spite of cruising to a 62-20 win, the Buccaneers accomplished neither objective as there were uncharacteristic mistakes made throughout the contest and an injury was suffered to a key starter, junior Ty Freeman.
“Hopefully Ty (Freeman) is alright,” said Covington coach Ty Cates. “That was my biggest concern tonight was to come out healthy.”
Special teams for Covington was a sore spot for Cates as well.
“We have to get better on kickoff (coverage),” fumed Cates. “That was one thing I didn’t like and I coach kickoff, so I take that one more personal.”
The outcome of the game was never in doubt as Covington dominated on both sides of the ball throughout the contest.
The Buccs scored on its second offensive play on a 45-yard pass from Nathan Blei to Tristin Sowers and then again on its third offensive play on a 40-yard pass from Blei to Zane Barnes.
Unfortunately, the touchdown pass from Blei to Barnes was called back due to a penalty, but Covington was still able to scored a few plays later as Blei hit Zach Parrett on pretty pass to the one and senior Adam Lefeld finished off the quick drive with a one-yard plunge.
Covington’s next drive took little time as well as Ethan Herron broke loose for a 42-yard touchdown run and then the Buccaneers closed out the first quarter with a 35-yard scoring strike from Blei to Branden Robinson for a 28-0 lead.
“Offensively, we played as well as we possibly could,” Cates said. “We threw the ball extremely well, we won the line of scrimmage and our backs made great cuts. When you score 62 points and don’t leave your varsity in the whole time, that’s a pretty good job offensively.”
Covington opened up the second quarter with a nine-yard scoring plunge by Lance Miller to push the lead to 34-0, but suddenly the Buccaneers looked like a different team as it took the field for the ensuing kickoff.
Mississinawa Valley returned the kick to the Covington 30 and eventually capitalized with a 14-yard pass from Trent Collins to J.J. Howard to put the Blackhawks on the board, 34-6.
“We can’t give up a score like that,” emphasized Cates. “We really wanted that shutout. We gave them all of that field position and our young guys have to know what they are doing.”
The score by Mississinawa Valley infuriated Covington and the Buccs took the ensuing possession down the field by running the ball through the heart of the Blackhawk defense. Nathan Blei capped the drive with a 12-yard pass to Zane Barnes to push the advantage to 41-6.
“I thought we responded well (to Mississinawa’s touchdown),” Cates said.
With just under two minutes left in the half, Mississinawa Valley went for the big play, but Branden Robinson picked off a Trent Collins pass to put the Buccaneer offense back in business.
And it took the Buccs just three plays to score as Deron White powered his way in from nine yards out to make the score 48-6 at the break.
From there, Covington sat the majority of its starters throughout the second half and waltzed to a 62-20 win.
Overall, Covington racked up 477 yards of offense with 315 yards on the ground and 162 through the air.
Nathan Blei completed six of eight passes for 162 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers.
Ten players ran the ball for Covington with Branden Robinson leading the Buccs with 95 rushing yards on just three carries. Tristin Sowers had 54 receiving yards on just two receptions.
Mississinawa Valley tallied 277 yards of offense on 72 yards rushing and 205 yards passing, with the majority of their yards coming in the second half against Covington’s junior varsity squad.
Covington improves to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the CCC with the win, while the Blackhawks drop to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the CCC.
The Buccs host unbeaten Bethel next Friday.