The Covington Chargers had to make a road trip to Melrose last Friday to open the 2019‭ ‬Class 3A state playoffs‭.‬

They made it look hard in the first half, losing a pair of fumbles at the Melrose 4‭ ‬and inside the 20‭, ‬scoring just 12‭ ‬points‭.

The Chargers, however, righted the ship in the second half for a 48-6‭ ‬win to advance to the second round‭.‬

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‭”‬The team took Melrose too lightly‭,” ‬said Covington head coach J.R. Kirby‭. “‬We had a serious conversation in the locker room at the half‭. ‬We had just been going through the motions‭. ‬I think that they got the message and played an entirely different second half‭. ‬Senior leadership for this young team helped to turn the page‭.”‬

Jamarion Dowell‭ (‬six rushes/35‭ ‬yards‭‭) ‬gave the Chargers‭ (‬9-2‭) ‬an early lead on a four-yard touchdown run‭. ‬Quarterback Carson Ruffin pushed the margin‭ ‬to 12-0‭ ‬in the second period on a one-yard scoring scamper‭, ‬but a couple of defensive miscues allowed the Golden Wildcats to complete‭ ‬a 19‭ -yard TD pass that cut the margin to 12-6‭ ‬at the half‭.

“‬We should have been up by three or four scores at the break‭,” ‬said Kirby‭, “‬but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot‭.”‬

It was a totally different picture in the final two quarters. ‬Special teams‭ and the defense combined to shut down the Wildcats and the offense put 36 ‬points on the board‭, ‬inlcuding 28‭ ‬in the third period‭.‬

‭”‬We couldn’t have asked any more of the defensive effort‭,” ‬Kirby said‭. “‬We allowed them 10‭ ‬completions for 70‭ ‬yards on 26‭ ‬attempts and had an interception by Lareko Burton‭, ‬the 14th by the CHS secondary this season‭.”‬‮ ‬

The Melrose running game did not fare so well‭. ‬The Wildcats ran the ball 19‭ ‬times and lost 45‭ ‬yards for their efforts, giving the‭ ‬Charger defensive squad its best showing of the year with 25‭ ‬net yards allowed‭.‬

Coopere Barbee blocked a Wildcat punt early in the 3rd period‭. ‬Andrew Scott scooped it up and scored from 20‭ ‬yards out to push‭ ‬the advantage to 19-6‭. ‬

Scott wasn’t through‭. ‬

With Marcus Hayes sidelined for the second straight game with an ankle sprain‭, ‬Scott carried the load again, following last week’s 160‭ -yard rushing total with 153‭ ‬yards on 28‭ ‬carries and two offensive TDs‭. ‬He scored three straight including the returned block punt with runs of one‭ ‬and 29‭ ‬yards that increased the Covington lead to 32-6‭. ‬

Myles‭ ‬Starks had an interception‭ and he added a score on special teams with a 37‭-yard punt‭ ‬return for a TD to close the third period‭. ‬Ruffin sneaked for a two-point conversion and it was Covington 38-6‭.‬

The final frame saw Melrose tagged with a safety‭. ‬EuMorrion Flowers closed the scoring for the Chargers with a three-yard run late in the fourth.‬

The Chargers kept it on the ground for most of the game‭. ‬Ruffin attempted just four passes, completing one for 8‭ ‬yards‭. ‬The running‭ ‬game was punishing with 359‭ ‬yards on 54‭ ‬carries‭. ‬In addition to Dowell and Scott‭, ‬Ruffin gained 89‭ ‬yards on eight ‬carries‭ and Jaylen Fayne had four rushes for 33‭ ‬yards‭.

This coming Friday night will find the Chargers on the road again against a familiar foe‭: ‬the Region 7-3A ‬‭ ‬champion South Gibson Hornets, who handed Covington it’s first region loss in three ‬years‭, ‬21-14‭ ‬four weeks ago‭.‬

‭”‬We will have to be better prepared and play a perfect game to come out on top‭,” ‬Kirby said‭. “‬We dominated them in every category‭ ‬in the regular season game except for passing yards and on the scoreboard‭. ‬We have to reduce penalties‭. ‬I guarantee that we will have a game plan with more than a few wrinkles in it‭.”‬

Kickoff is scheduled for 7‭ p.m. in Medina. ‬

If Covington wins and Wooddale beats Milan in another second-round game, the Chargers would host a quarterfinal game on Nov. 22. If Milan and Covington win, the Chargers would have to travel to Milan for a quarterfinal game.

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