By Ben Robinson
FORT LORAMIE — In spite of entering Friday’s Cross County Conference opener at Fort Loramie after losses to St. Henry and Minster to start the season, the Covington Buccaneers appeared primed for a breakout game and the first win of the young season.
Instead, it was a night the Buccaneers would rather forget as Fort Loramie used big play after big play to hand Covington a convincing 33-14 defeat.
And it was the short passing game by Fort Loramie that picked apart the Buccaneer defense with the primary target being Carter Mescher, who torched Covington for three touchdowns on four catches for 264 yards.
Covington received the ball to start the game and moved the ball into Redskin territory before being forced to punt the ball away after a penalty moved the ball back to near midfield.
Fort Loramie then took its opening possession of the game 79 yards to pay dirt – with the final 42 yards coming on a short pass from Collin Moore to Mecher, who weaved his way through the Buccaneer defense for the score. The point-after attempt was true and Covington suddenly found itself down 7-0 with 5:10 left in the opening frame.
The Buccaneers then went on another time consuming drive and once again had the ball inside Fort Loramie territory before the Redskin defense recorded a huge sack to force Covington to punt once again.
And the Redskin offense capitalized for a second time on consecutive possessions – this time using a deep pass from Moore to Mecher, who made a juggling catch down the sideline and for a 52-yard score and a 13-0 lead with 10:11 left in the half.
Needing a big play to gain some momentum, junior Alex Shaffer did just that for Covington on the ensuing kickoff by returning the ball to the Redskin 40.
After a quick pass from Cade Schmelzer to Andrew Cates resulted in a first down, Shaffer picked up 15 yards on a sweep to moved the ball to the Redskin 11 and a first down.
After two short runs by the Buccs, the Redskins made the defensive stop with a diving interception at the one.
And on the very next play Fort Loramie broke the game open as Mescher took a short pass in the flat and raced 99 yards untouched down the home sideline to push the Redskin advantage to 20-0 with 5:46 left in the half.
Covington then was forced to turn the ball right back over to Fort Loramie after going three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but the Buccaneer defense was able to force the Redskins to punt with just under 3:00 left in the half.
And the Buccaneers received a huge boost by the special teams as junior Josh Latimer blocked the Fort Loramie punt and scooped up the ball in stride for a 38-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt by Gavin McReynolds went down the middle and the Buccaneers suddenly found themselves back in the game 20-7 with 2:44 left in the half.
Unfortunately 2:44 is an eternity for an offense like Fort Loramie and the Redskins executed time management to perfection with pin-point passes by Collin Moore mixed in with some power running by Max Hoying.
In a blink of an eye Fort Loramie was at the Buccaneer 14 with first down and Hoying was able to cap the drive with a 14-yard scoring run to push the Redskin lead to 26-7 at the half.
Fort Loramie then put the game pretty much out of reach on the opening possession of the second half as Mescher took a short pass in the flat from backup quarterback Nathan Ratermann – who was in for a couple of plays for an injured Moore – and weaved his way once again through the Buccaneer defense for a 71-yard touchdown.
This put Fort Loramie up 33-7 just 1:48 into the second half.
Neither team could score until Covington reached pay dirt on a 20-yard pass from Cade Schmelzer to Andrew Cates with 5:16 left in the game.
In all, Fort Loramie tallied 460 yards of total offense with 336 coming through the air and 124 on the ground.
Covington managed 237 yards of offense with 148 yards passing and 89 on the ground.
The loss drops Covington to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the CCC. The Buccaneers look to find the winning formula next Friday as they host Tri-County North.