By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — Early on it looked as if the Covington Buccaneers were going to have their hand full with a young and gritty Tri-County North team as the Panthers gave as senior laden Buccaneer squad all they could handle and then some in the first quarter.
But Covington was able to put the game away with seven touchdowns in the second quarter en route to a 74-6 win.
Tri-County North won the toss and deferred to Covington, who opened up the game with a six-play, 55-yard scoring drive capped by a 20-yard run by Trentin Alexander.
The Panthers then stunned Covington on its first possession by methodically moving the ball with a first-and-goal inside the Buccaneer five. But the Buccaneer defense stiffened up and was able to hold the Panthers a yard short of the goal line on fourth-and-one.
But Covington turned the ball right back over to Tri-County North two plays later on a fumble at its own 25.
Once again, the Covington defense was up to the task and held the Panthers on fourth down 15 yards from the end zone as the first quarter came to close with the Buccs holding a slim 7-0 lead.
The tight game quickly turned into a blowout once the two teams switched sides as Covington scored at will.
Trenton Alexander capped an eight-play, 85-yard drive with a 41-yard scoring jaunt to get things rolling and then Bradyen Wiggins scored two plays after a successful onside kick was recovered by Stephen Sporek.
The Panthers went three-and-out on its first possession of the second quarter and Covington hit pay dirt again on the first play of the ensuing possession as Kleyton Maschino found Andrew Cates wide open from 67-yards out on a halfback pass.
The next four Panther possessions netted zero first downs and two interceptions – one going for a pick-six by Kadin Presser.
Cade Schmelzer scored on a one-yard plunge and hit Andrew Cates for a 37-yard scoring strike, while Alex Shaffer scored on a 55-yard punt return to push Covington’s lead to 54-0 at the break.
Covington picked up where it left off in the third quarter as Schmelzer found Maschino open for a 13-yard scoring strike and Alex Shaffer weaved his way in on a 25-yard scoring run.
The Buccaneers capped a dominating effort with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kadin Presser – his second pick six of the contest.
Covington racked up 442 yards of total offense and held the Panthers to 163 yards.
The win improves Covington’s record to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the CCC with one more game left in the regular season next week at Bethel.