By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Hoping to shorten its game against No. 2-ranked and unbeaten Covington, this was certainly not what Obion Central had in mind.
The Chargers showcased their big-play abilities on both sides of the ball and forced a continously-running clock in the second half when they completed a 56-6 romp over outmanned OC Friday night.
With the Rebels needing to dial down their normal up-tempo game plan and play ball-control for any opportunity to pull the upset, Central instead allowed two blocked punts and lost a fumble — all in the first quarter — setting the stage for Covington to score five touchdowns on its first 10 snaps for a 35-0 lead with just a minute gone in the second quarter.
“They’re way better than anybody we’ve played,” Central head coach Shawn Jackson — who watched the game from the press box — said afterward. “They have great skill people and you have to limit their touches to even have a chance and we didn’t do that. We couldn’t sustain drives early, and when we gave the ball back to them, they had great field position and we couldn’t tackle them in the open field.
“We’re not good enough to overcome a couple of blocked punts and another turnover. They were just too good for us.”
Heralded Covington running back Johnston White, who went over the 1,600-yard mark for the season with a 128-yard effort, rushed for four touchdowns, and T.A. Watson threw TD passes covering 19 and 44 yards to Carlos Williams as the Chargers scored on each of their offensive possessions — save for one right before the intermission when they took a knee.
White was equally notable on special teams and defense, first blocking a Caleb Walker punt after the Rebels went three-and-out on their initial series to set up a short field and his first score, then recovering a Blake Berner fumble in OC territory that set that stage the first Watson-to-Williams pitch-and-catch TD.
Obion Central (2-6, 1-4) meanwhile, which saw its faint playoff hopes take another hit as they failed to sustain much offense — finishing with just 176 total yards.
The Rebs’ lone touchdown came just before halftime when Josh Floyd gave the county locals great field position with a 58-yard kickoff return, then positioned his team for an endzone visit when he took a screen pass from Berner 31 yards to the Covington five-yard line on a 4th-and-9 play.
After Berner was denied paydirt twice on sneaks, he handed to Bryce Warner who veered over right guard and across the goal line with just 34 seconds left before intermission to make it 42-6.
White, who had scoring jaunts of 26 and 19 yards in addition to his aforementioned one-yard plunge in the first half, capped the Chargers’ must-sustained march of the night with a 13-yard paydirt scamper to open the second half to culminate a nine-play scoring march. The TD officially ended the night for the Covington first-team offense, though the hometeam’s reserves tacked on a final score midway through the fourth quarter when Dakota Phipps dented the endzone from the one.
Central did threaten again in the waning moments as Berner hooked up with Blake Rudd (15 yards) and Warner (23 yards) to advance the Rebels to the 13 before the unstopped clock ran out.
Berner threw for 113 yards on 9-of-19 passing and was not intercepted, while Trent Mann totaled 170 yards on eight kickoff returns and Floyd finished with 105 all-purpose yards.
Defensively, Central gave up 40 or more points for the fifth time in their six losses and failed to generate a turnover.
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“We’re at a real disadvantage when we get one-on-one in the open field,” Jackson added of a unit that surrendered its highest point total of the season. “It’s a proven fact that the more athletic you are, the better tacklers you are. And we just don’t have widespread athleticism on our roster.”
The coach and his team will now turn their attention toward the final home game of the 2012 season — this week when Haywood (2-6) visits Troy.
“It’s Senior Night and we’ve got a good group of more than 20 seniors who we’d like to get a win for in their last home game,” Jackson said.
Covington (8-0, 5-0), on the other hand, is preparing for a showdown with Milan (7-1, 4-1) that could determine if the Chargers claim at least a share of the District 13AA championship.
Head coach Marty Wheeler was pleased with his team’s businesslike approach vs. the Rebels with the much-anticipated matchup against Milan on the horizon.
“That has a lot to do with being an experienced football team,” insisted Wheeler, whose program made it to the Class 4A state semifinals a year ago. “We’ve been able to do a good job of keeping our kids focused on just the next game all year. It’s a mature bunch and we’ve handled a lot of things that go with having a good football team this year.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 10.15.12