For nearly two quarters Friday night in Brighton, it looked like the Cardinals might make its game against rival Covington a competitive one.
Brighton was forcing the Chargers to drive slowly down the field and was keeping Covington’s playmakers contained.
But with 4:40 left in the first half, Covington junior Jalen Fayne returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown to put Covington ahead 21-0 and it was all Chargers after that.
Covington moved to 4-0 on the season and won the unofficial Tipton County championship with a dominant 42-0 victory.
The Chargers’ offense was efficient, but the defense was the story. It held Brighton (2-2) to just three first downs and 60 yards.
“It was an amazing game,” said Covington senior Lareko Burton, a two-time all-state linebacker. “They said they were going to put up some points on us, but we shut ’em out. For my senior year being county champs, it’s special.”
“I’ll say this,” Brighton coach Mike David said. “They’re defense played really well.”
Covington’s first scoring drive included 13 plays, covered 76 yards and ended with an eight-yard TD run by quarterback Carson Ruffin.
After a Brighton punt, Covington went on a nine-play, 54-yard scoring drive that was punctuated by a two-yard Ruffin run and Covington led 14-0.
Brighton ran just 15 plays the entire first half.
“I thought our defense played really well,” David said. “We had some breakdowns, but other than that it was good. Offensively we need to do a better job and keep our defense off the field. Their offense, they do a good job. It’s slow and they take time off the clock and your defense is out there for a while.”
Covington tailback Marcus Hayes, who finished with 112 yards on 13 carries, scored on a six-yard run with 7:05 left in the third quarter. Jamarion Dowell (10 rushes, 83 yards) scored on a 10-yard run late in the third and on a nine-yarder with 3:33 left in the game.
Eumorrion Flowers added 58 yards on 20 carries for Covington.
Covington has swept Brighton and Munford three straight years now.
“It means something to these kids, you can’t say it doesn’t,” said Covington coach J.R. Kirby. “Does it mean anything in realty? Yeah, it does. We’ve got bragging rights and we moved to 4-0.”
Covington’s final scoring drive covered 10 plays and it was a perfect example of how methodical and efficient the Charger offense was all night.
“We dominated the game for the most part tonight, so I’m proud of our kids,” Kirby said. “We’re going to use this a game to learn from and move on. I was proud of our kids. They were very physical and got after it … Hats off to Brighton. They did some things to try and stop us, some stuff similar to what Haywood (in Week 2) did. We just made our adjustments … They have athletes all over the field, so for our defense to what they did was great.”
Both teams have very important games Friday night.
Covington plays at Martin Westview, which is ranked sixth in the state (Covington is second) in a Region 7-3A contest.
Brighton plays at Munford in the Region 8-5A opener for both teams. Considering all the other teams in 8-5A have yet to play, the game could be for the region title.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to go on play next week,” Kirby said. “That game is 100 times bigger, but to our community this win was big.”
“We’re going to look to correct the mistakes we made tonight and come back and get ready for Munford,” David said. “I think, right now, we need to worry about ourselves first and then we’ll focus on them. We’ll be ready by next Friday night.”