LEWISBURG — Tri-County North was its own worst enemy at times Friday night, Sept. 30.
The Panthers committed five turnovers, turned the ball over on downs twice, and allowed Covington’s offense several big plays in a key Cross County Conference match-up between two undefeated teams on a wet and foggy field.
The end result was a 41-13 win for the Buccs, who improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the CCC, while North fell to 4-2 overall and 4-1 in the CCC.
“Give them credit. They’ve got some great skill players,” North coach Bill Derringer said of Covington. “Turnovers tonight killed us and so did not being able to defend the pass.”
North, who was celebrating its homecoming, got on the board first on a 7-yard touchdown run from senior Tanner Booth with 10:44 left in the second quarter, for a 7-0 lead.
Covington answered on its next possession with the first of its big plays. On second-and-13, Buccs quarterback Nathan Blei connected with Tristin Sowers for a 61-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7-all with 8:21 to play in the half.
Covington grabbed the lead late in the first half, when Blei and Sowers hooked up again — this time for a 57-yard scoring strike with 2:30 left and a 14-7 Buccs lead.
North fumbled on the first play of its next series and the Buccs took advantage right before halftime. Blei tossed his third touchdown pass of the half, a 16-yard play to Zach Parrett with 1:14 left. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 20-7 in favor of the visitors.
The Panthers opened the scoring in the second half on a 30-yard scoring run by Booth (34 carries, 255 yards) just two minutes into the third quarter, to make the score 20-13.
From there, the Buccs grabbed control of the game. Covington’s Lance Miller recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and a 27-13 lead with 5:10 to play in the third.
Blei hooked up with Branden Robison on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 35-yard touchdown pass to give Covington a 34-13 lead. Miller closed out the scoring with a 12-yard scoring run with 9:43 left.
Blei finished the game with nearly 300 yards passing.
“Defensively, they just picked us apart,” Derringer said. “We couldn’t stop their pass. We tried about everybody and everything we had.”
The Panthers will go on the road this Friday, Oct. 7, when they visit Troy Christian (5-1) for a non-conference game.
“We’ve got a lot of regrouping to do,” Derringer said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH