COVINGTON — The National Trail football team was overpowered on Friday, Oct. 21, losing 41-7 on the road against the Covington Buccaneers in a Cross County Conference showdown.
Covington used a wide-open passing attack to score against the Blazers, while its defense kept National Trail off the field a majority of the game.
Covington is the No. 1 team in the Division VII, Region 28 OHSAA computer rankings.
“I was very disappointed in our effort Friday night. Granted, Covington is a team that is far superior to us right now in all phases of the game. But we came out, I thought, pretty flat and we had opportunities to stay competitive and in this game. We had a lot of missed assignments on defense in coverage, which against a team with the athletes that they have, is a recipe for disaster,” National Trail coach Randy Kerns said.
Covington took its first possession from its own 14-yard line and marched down the field to score on a 35-yard pass play, assisted by two earlier plays for big yardage and taking a 7-0 lead.
The Blazers were forced to turn the ball over on downs on the next drive, resulting in a second Buccaneer touchdown which took only a minute off the game clock.
Down 14-0, National Trail began its third drive, only to suffer a fumble which was recovered by the Buccs defense.
Covington scored again, this time on a 42-yard pass in less than a minute. This made the score 21-0 for the home Buccaneers.
National Trail tried its best on the next possession, but was forced to punt the ball away.
With the help of a long pass early in its next drive, Covington scored its fourth touchdown in the half on a 9-yard toss into the end zone.
The extra-point kick missed the uprights, which left the halftime score, 27-0.
‘We had them in numerous third-and-long situations and couldn’t make the play to get ourselves off the field,” said Kerns. “They had some big conversions that really hurt us in the first half that directly led to their halftime lead.”
After a few plays in the third quarter, Covington scored a rushing touchdown from 30-yards out for a 34-0 lead. The Blazers were finally able to break the shut out, scoring on an Eyvnn Short 40-yard pass completed to Angel Garabito for a touchdown.
But Covington stopped any sort of a comeback from National Trail, scoring on the next possession on a short touchdown run, for a 41-7 lead. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
Senior running back Ben Sullivan rushed 15 times for 71 yards for the Blazers. Garabito finished with three receptions for 55 yards and the lone touchdown. Defensively, freshman Peyton Lane finished with a team-leading 11 tackles. Junior Lucas Boggs had seven stops, and junior Levi Norton had six tackles and a tackle for loss from his defensive tackle spot.
“We missed a lot of tackles in space in this game, which is partly because of their athleticism and partly because we aren’t disciplining our eyes in our approach like we teach,” Kerns said. “Our angles and approach weren’t very good. Also, our physicality among our back six on defense must improve this coming week if we are going to compete with a program like Tri-County North.”
“Offensively, it was tough sledding, and a lot of it was our own fault” he said. “Ben ran well, and we had some really positive plays at times. However, our lack of discipline and focus is brutalizing us. We started first-and-15 a total of four times because of penalties, once again. We continue to have too many penalties and turn the ball over.”
National Trail is now 2-7 overall, and 1-6 in the CCC. The Blazers will finish their season on Friday, Oct. 28, with a home game against county and CCC foe Tri-County North.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH