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Ranked showdown gets Charged up — Covington leaves OC feeling ill

Ranked showdown gets Charged up — Covington leaves OC feeling ill
Ranked showdown gets Charged up — Covington leaves OC feeling ill | Ranked showdown gets Charged up — Covington leaves OC feeling ill
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Shawn Jackson insisted his team played like he felt.
Not the best.
The Obion Central head coach — looking worse for wear after a nine-day hospital stay while battling diverticulitis — saw his third-ranked Rebels drop from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 50-36 loss to No. 5 Covington Friday night at Troy.
Played before an overflow home crowd in a contest billed as the biggest regular season game in the half-century history of the OC program, the Chargers ran over, around and through fading Central in the second half of the District 13AA showdown after the Rebs had appeared in complete control with a 22-7 lead in the final minute before intermission.
Covington (7-1, 5-0) repeatedly gashed an OC defense that had essentially not been tested in seven games beforehand, rushing for a whopping 512 yards and amassing 571 all totaled while outscoring Obion Central (7-1, 4-1) 43-14 over the final 24:11. The Chargers rushed for 330 of those yards during the final two quarters.
“We didn’t play well, and a lot of it can be attributed to my situation last week,” claimed Jackson, who said health-wise, “I feel better, but I’m only about 50 percent.
“I was a big distraction. That’s on me. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. We didn’t prepare like we would have if I’d have been here.”
Jackson — who was discharged from Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City on Wednesday after two stints in the intensive care unit — had several view points of his team’s effort, starting out in the visitors’ side pressbox, before coming onto Obion Central sideline early in the second quarter. He sent in plays from the Rebel pressbox in the third period and then came back to his team’s sideline late in the quarter and finishing the game there while sometimes sitting in a chair.
He watched his offensive unit that had been both prolific and opportunistic until Friday struggle with dropped passes and missed scoring opportunities and a defense that gave up more than 10 yards-per-carry on 49 Covington rushes with three different Charger runners gaining more than 135 yards.
“We scored 36 points, and I still never felt like we were in sync offensively,” the coach continued. “We left points on the field and settled for field goals twice in the first half when we had a chance to blow the game open. We dropped passes, including one for a touchdown. We didn’t punch it in once when we were on the one and came away with no points. And we got inside the 30 once and inside the 20 another time and didn’t score.
“Defensively, we got out-flanked a bunch of times.”
None of the blame for the Rebels’ shortcoming could be laid at the feet of running back LaDevin Fair.
Fair turned in a spectacular offensive performance, accounting for 315 all-purpose yards. He charged, darted and danced while rushing for 223 yards and Central’s first two scores (nine and 43 yards). Fair, who repeatedly broke some tackles and spun away from others, later had a 24-yard TD off a screen pass from Trey Phipps, and also recorded another 64 yards in kick returns on the rare occasions when the Chargers elected to boot the ball in his direction.
“LaDevin was outstanding,” Jackson agreed. “Nobody else was, though.”
On the flip side, the Chargers regularly gouged OC with their wing-T offense on sweep plays around the end and trap plays up the middle.
Johnston White ran for 219 yards, his 51-yard touchdown sprint with a little more than three minutes to go sealing the Rebs’ fate. Terence Pierson, who was injured earlier in the season but saw his first extensive action since then on Friday, had 159 yards and two TDs on 15 carries — including the go-ahead-for-good score on a 74-yard burst late in the third stanza.
Colliar Robinson gained 136 yards on 16 attempts with a touchdown.
Covington QB Britt Dunn was quietly a factor too, recovering Robinson’s fumble in the endzone for the visitors’ first score, then hitting Shelton Lyons with a 40-yard touchdown pass with just seconds left in the first half that closed the gap to 22-14 and swung momentum the Chargers’ way.
Perhaps Dunn’s most-critical play, though, came when he shook free of pressure and flipped a 15-yard scoring aerial to Carlos Burton with 4:51 to play to make it a two-touchdown game.
Obion Central looked to be in command late in the second period — up 22-7 after Mason McGrew booted field goals of 39 and 32 yards when promising drives stalled.
Tanner Miller roared in to block a punt that Covington recovered in its own endzone for a safety during the Rebels’ run of 15 unanswered points.
“We needed to score touchdowns to beat them and we didn’t,” Jackson said.
“Getting down close and coming away with either field goals or nothing really hurt.”
OC senior receiver Tanner Cary did have his best night of the season with eight grabs for 131 yards — the last a pretty leaping snag that went for a five-yard touchdown with 3:26 to play.
Quarterback Trey Phipps threw for 257 yards and two TDs on 18-of-34 through the air, those numbers hurt by at least a half-dozen drops.
The Rebels will try to resume their winning ways with a trip to Brownsville to play Haywood this week.
Covington plays at Milan in a showdown that could decide the 13AA champion.
Game notes: Coving-ton’s seven points in the first quarter and 22 in the third marked the first time that the Rebels had given up anything in either of those periods this season. … Jackson said he would visit a Memphis hospital on Tuesday for further treatment of his medical condition. … Linebacker Nathan Spaulding had a team-high 11 tackles, the only Rebel defender in double figures in that department.
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Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.17.11

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