By Ben Robinson
ARCANUM — Yes, there much prettier wins over the years, but a sign of a good football team is when you can win ugly.
And the Covington Buccaneers earned an ugly win on Friday by the score of 24-6 over Arcanum in a game that saw a combined 26 penalties for 250 yards.
“That has to get fixed,” said Covington coach Tyler Cates after his team committed 14 penalties for 150 yards. “That’s unacceptable. Our kids are better than that. That’s bad.”
What wasn’t bad is how the Buccaneers responded to the self induced adversity.
Trailing 6-0 after a 48-yard touchdown strike from Nick Fry to Ian Baker midway through the second quarter, the Buccaneers ran off 24 unanswered points to pull away for the win.
And it was the running of junior scatback Brayden Wiggins that got the Buccaneers rolling.
“We saw something that was working when we spread them out,” explained Cates. “They loaded up the box so we spread them out to get Wiggy (Wiggins) in space.”
The strategy worked to perfection as Wiggins torched Arcanum for 132 yards on 13 carries and two scores.
“He’s just a great kid,” praised Cates of Wiggins. “He’s not very big, but he runs his butt off. He has great vision and does all of the little things right.”
The running of Wiggins moved Covington into scoring position late in the first half and Cade Schmelzer finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown strike to Parker Dysinger on a fourth-and-three play with 33 seconds left.
Unfortunately the point-after attempt was off the mark as the two teams went into the locker room knotted at 6-6.
Frustrated by a poor first half where it had more yards in penalties (75) than total offense (54), Covington came out with a sense of purpose in the second half.
And it was the defense, led by senior Parker Dysinger, that set the tone.
“Absolutely, we played better in the second half,” Cates said. “Defensively, our kids got it going in the second half.”
Dysinger gave Covington some momentum by sacking the Trojan quarterback on a fourth down attempt and the offense capitalized on a 10-yard scoring run by Wiggins to give the Buccs a 12-6 lead with 8:52 left in the third quarter.
Then, Dysinger combined with sophomore Duncan Cooper to forced a Trojan fumble that junior lineman Jesse Fisher scooped up and advanced to the Arcanum 18.
A few plays later Gage Kerrigan powered his way in from a yard out to increase the Covington lead to 18-6 in the early moments of the fourth quarter.
After an Andrew Cates interception where Arcanum appeared to be on the move, Covington put the game away as Wiggins broke free for a 45-yard scoring run to make the final score 24-6.
In all, the Buccaneer defense forced four turnovers, one via fumble and three on interceptions by Kleyton Maschino, Alex Shaffer and Andrew Cates. The Buccaneers had just one turnover on an interception.
Covington tallied 283 yards of total offense with 219 coming on the ground and 64 through the air, while Arcanum managed 226 yards of offense on 202 passing and 24 via the running game.
The win boosts the Buccs’ record to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the CCC with a huge showdown next Friday awaiting against Miami East (4-1).
And Cates knows his team will need to play more error-free football if it wants to have any chance of coming away with a win.
“We just have to be more consistent,” said Cates of what his team need to do next week. “We have to come ready to play. We have to have a good week of practice – get better and minimize our mistakes. If we play the way we are capable of, I feel we have a good chance against anybody.”