By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — After Covington’s 35-13 win over rival Miami East, Covington junior fullback and nose tackle Trentin Alexander stood at the 20-yard line on the east end of Smith Field sobbing in the arms of his father Trent and coach Tyler Cates. It was a release of emotion after Alexander played the game of his life in honor of a dear friend of the family, Tyler Iddings, who passed away unexpectedly on Monday at the age of 32.
“Tyler was like a brother to me and an uncle to Trentin,” said Trent. “He’s been close to Trentin since the day he was born. It’s been a tough week and Trentin played this game for him (Iddings).”
And Trentin played a whale of a game as he accounted for 103 rushing yards on 10 carries and tallied 6.5 quarterback sacks on defense, just one sack short of tying the school record of 7.5 sacks in a game set by Brian Olson Jr. in 2012.
Plus, Alexander stepped in and handled the punt return duties after the Buccaneers muffed three punts early in the contest.
Mistakes were an issue for Covington throughout the contest as it turned the ball over three times via fumble and committed 10 penalties for 105 yards.
Fortunately, Covington was able to overcome its miscues by having the ability to focus on the next play – a mentality resembling a championship team.
The first miscue came on the opening possession of the game as Covington was flagged for a personal foul after gaining a first down inside the Viking 20. This left the Buccaneers with a fourth-and-20 situation at their own 33 and Kleyton Maschino was able to make a spectacular catch over a Viking defender in the end zone on a pass from Cade Schmelzer for a 7-0 Covington lead.
Miami East went three-and-out on its first possession, but Covington fumbled the ball back to the Vikings at its own 33.
A few plays later Nick LeValley powered his way in from three yards out to cut the margin to 7-6 as the point-after attempt sailed wide.
Dalton Weer returned the ensuing kickoff to the Viking 49, but once again the Buccaneers put the ball on the ground after driving to the Miami East 19. The Vikings took over possession on the recovery at its own 23, but the stingy Covington defense was able to force a three-and-out.
After a short punt gave Covington the ball at midfield, the Buccaneers took advantage of the short field on a two-yard run by Brayden Wiggins to push the lead to 14-6 with 8:53 left in the half.
Covington would tack on one more score before the break on a 33-yard scoring strike from Schmelzer to Andrew Cates to give the Buccs a 21-6 lead at the break.
Miami East received the opening kickoff of the second half and saw a nice return negated by a penalty. The Vikings couldn’t muster a first down on the possession and once again gave Covington a short field with a short punt that went out of bounds at their own 40.
A few lays later senior lineman Jesse Fisher moved from tackle to fullback and powered his way up the gut from three yards out to push Covington’s lead to 28-6 with 8:59 left in the third.
After another three-and-out by Miami East, Covington took over the ball once again at its own 45.
Covington then put together a methodical, clock-eating drive and capped the effort with a one-yard run by Cates to increase the advantage to 35-6 with 2:11 left in the third.
From there it was a matter of preventing the big play and controlling the clock, which Covington was able to do as it substituted freely.
Miami East, who is fielding a young team, showed the Viking heart by continuing to play hard until the final whistle.
And Miami East rewarded its own effort by reaching pay dirt midway through the fourth quarter on a five-yard run by LeValley. The extra point kick by Garrett Kowalak made the score 35-13, which stood until the final seconds ticked away.
Covington tallied 449 yards of total offense on 217 yards rushing and 232 yards passing, while Miami East rushed for 49 yards and passed for 44 yards for a total offense output of 93 yards.
The win boosts Covington’s record to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the CCC, while Miami East drops to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league.
Next week Covington hosts National Trail, while Miami East hosts Ansonia.