By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
XENIA — The Covington football team had every obstacle thrown at them Friday night in a Division VI regional semifinal matchup with unbeaten Chillicothe Southeastern Friday night at Doug Adams Stadium.
But the Buccaneers were not going to be denied.
Not the Panthers, not a couple heartbreaking injuries.
“It is all about will,” Covington senior Trentin Adams said. “You have to play with heart.”
And the Buccs did exactly that in a 36-20 victory.
Covington, 10-2, advances to play 11-1 Mechanicsburg in a regional final Friday at a site to be announced Sunday.
Covington did it despite losing standouts Andrew Cates and Brayden Wiggins to devastating injuries in the opening quarter.
“That was heartbreaking,” junior Duncan Cooper said. “But it is part of the game. And the guys that came in did an amazing job. Deacon Shields had some huge runs and a touchdown on offense and Connor Sindelir had a bunch of tackles on defense.”
And the Buccs contained the dangerous Lane Ruby. The Panthers quarterback, who came in averaging 15 yards a carry and had nearly 2,000 yards rushing, never broke a big run all night.
“I never would have believed that,” Covington coach Ty Cates said. “That kid is so talented. That just shows you when you fly to the ball, good things will happen.”
And when Southeastern closed within 22-14 early in the fourth quarter, it was Alexander who provided the backbreaker.
Covington had third-and-three on its own 37.
On a play that was supposed to go inside, Alexander broke outside the Southeastern contain and raced all the way to the Panthers 4-yard line.
“What a great cut by Trentin (Alexander),” Cates said. “To have the vision to break that to the outside. An unbelievable block by Kadin Presser out on the perimeter.”
Alexander gave his O-line and Presser all the credit.
“Without that block by Presser and the O-line, that run doesn’t happen,” Alexander said.
Alexander scored two plays later, and Kleyton Maschino’s kick put Covington up 29-14 with 7:19 remaining.
Ruby would have a 2-yard TD run with 3:03 remaining, but there was a fumble on the two-point PAT, keeping the score 29-20.
Cooper then had a 31-yard TD run to set up a 1-yard TD run by Alexander and Maschino’s kick made the final 36-20.
“You still have to be able to go out there and finish and we did that,” Cates said.
The game had begun with a three-and-out by Covington and Southeastern going 80 yards on its first possession.
Mikey Nusser ran nine yards for the score and added the PAT run to make it 8-0 with 5:15 remaining.
“That offense is tough to start the first time you see it,” Cates said.
Covington answered with a 73-yard drive of its own.
Alexander had an 11-yard run to make it first-and-goal at the four and took it in from the one two plays later. Maschino’s kick cut the Southeastern lead to 8-7 with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
Then, with Southeastern facing a four-and-18 from its own 14, Ruby elected to try to run for a first down and was stopped 12 yards shorts of the first down at the 20.
On a third-and-12 from the 22, Covington quarterback Cade Schmelzer hit Alexander out in the flat and he took it 15 yards to the seven-yard line. Cooper ran it in on the next play and Maschino’s kick gave Covington a 14-8 lead to the locker room.
“That was huge,” Cates said of the halftime lead.
Then, with Wiggins injured, Decon Shields sparked the Buccs in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, he had a 32-yard run down to the Panthers 15-yard line and two plays later, he ran it in from the 10-yard line. He added a run for the PAT and Covington would lead 22-8 with 3:00 to go in the third quarter, before finishing the win off in the fourth quarter.
“Deacon (Shields) is a good running back,” Cates said. “He is just stuck behind some really good players. He still comes in and works hard every day in practice. That kid is a stud.”
Alexander led the Buccs rushing attack, with 101 yards on 14 carries unofficially.
Shields added 71 yards on seven carries, while Cooper had 55 yards on 10 carries.
Schmelzer completed six of nine passes with one interception for 60 yards.
“I never expected to run the ball as well as we did,” Cates said. “We didn’t have to throw much. That is props to our offensive line.”
Ruby had 24 carries for 149 yards and completed seven of `15 passes for 107 yards.
“I can’t believe we held that offense to that (20 points),” Cates said. “We feel like we are fast on defense and they were just flying to the ball. We were able to keep them behind the sticks, which is what you have to do. It shows shows you what you can do when follow your assignments.”
And refuse to be denied.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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