Considering the winner was likely to end up winning the Region 7-3A title and both teams were ranked in the state’s top five, Friday’s showdown between Dyersburg and Covington in Dyersburg generated a lot of pre-game hype.
It was as billed, filled with big plays by both squads and a come-from-behind rally by the Chargers. In the end, though, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory on a controversial penalty call in a 29-22 Dyersburg win.
With Covington (5-1, 2-1) leading 22-21 in the final moments of the game, Dyersburg (6-0, 3-0) drove the ball to the Covington 27, where the drive stalled. The field goal team came on, the kick was missed and the win appeared to be Covington’s with 33 seconds left.
But a flag was thrown and officials called a roughing the kicker penalty that moved the ball to the CHS 12. Covington could not recover and Rah’Montaye Patton punched it in with six seconds left to give Dyersburg the win.
Primarily on the legs of Jalen Fayne and Jamarion Dowell, the Chargers mounted a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, eventually erased a 21-6 deficit.
Dowell (23 carries, 141 yards) scored on a 25-yarder and then Fayne (20 carries, 190 yards) broke loose around right end for a 66-yard score and added the the two-point conversion to give CHS a 22-21 lead. Covington’s rushing attack generated 354 yards on 59 carries.
Covington took the opening kickoff and took almost nine minutes off the clock with a 75-yard, 17-play scoring drive capped off by Skylan Smith’s nine-yard run. The PAT was blocked and CHS led 6-0.
Dyersburg was essentially stymied by the CHS defense early, gaining just two first downs on 17 plays from scrimmage in the first half. Unfortunately for the Chargers, one of those was a 51-yard scoring run by the Trojans’ Dontavis Vaughn on second and 16 from the Dyersburg 49. Neither team could mount any offense from that point and the half ended with a 7-6 Trojan lead.
“We gave up three big plays that turned into touchdowns,” said head coach J R Kirby. “Such is unacceptable and we have to fix it.”
The Trojans took the ball to begin the second half and took three plays to expand the lead. Following a 15-yard pass interference penalty against Covington, Vaughn took off on a 62-yard scoring jaunt that put CHS down 14-6.
After a Covington punt, DHS QB Lafe Morgan connected with receiver Mesach Jones, who wrestled a jump ball away from Jalen Fayne, and then won a 61-yard footrace before being tackled at the CHS one-yard line. Vaughn punched it in, putting Covington in a 21-6 hole going into the fourth.
“I am so proud of this team and the staff,” Kirby said. “They did not get their heads down, but instead fought all the way back to take the lead and apparent win that was negated by a bad call at the most important point in the game … We stopped ourselves too much. The kids were emotional after the game, but calmed on the ride home. Jalen (Fayne) led a meeting of the team when we returned. I went to the office. Things are going to be alright. We’ll see Dyersburg again.”