Covington and Ripley have a long history of battles pitched across the Hatchie River.
Last Friday was no different on Covington Athletic Field as the Chargers started fast but slowed down, allowing the Tigers to stay in the game before finally posting a 30-20 win Region 7-3A win.
“I am happy for the win,” said head coach J.R. Kirby. “Ripley played hard, they exposed some of our weaknesses and gave us a fight. We have a number of things to fix and we will. Our lack of focus is on me.”
The Chargers got the ball first and drove the field 65 yards in nine plays, capped by Jalen Fayne’s 11-yard TD run at the 8:15 mark. The lead increased to 14-0 with three minutes left in the first period on a one-yard TD run by Jamarion Dowell, the first of his two TDs on the night. His 24 rushes for 195 yards led the team.
With the ball at the Tigers 11 early in the second period, Kirby took a shot, only to have the Tigers intercept a pass at the goal line.
“After that,” said Kirby, “the momentum changed and we did not play very well.”
Ripley cut the score to 14-6 on an 81-yard flea flicker from wingback Taylor Markham. An 11-play scoring drive pushed the lead to 21-6 on Dowell’s 27-yard scamper. Undaunted, the Tigers burned the Charger secondary for a 64-yard TD pass from Josh Hearn to Terrence Elder to cut the lead to 20-12 at the break.
A.C. Mason’s 30-yard run and a safety late in the third gave CHS a 30-14 lead. Ripley got one more score on a 15-yard run by Jordan Glass to close the scoring.
“We have a lot of work to do in the secondary,” Kirby said. “We had two big interceptions, one by Devin Tate and the other by Christian Barbee that put it away late. Our run defense was super, giving up 32 yards on 17 carries but 10 for 22 and 236 (passing) yards is unacceptable. Do that with a team that can run, too, and we are in trouble.”
Covington’s ground game was pretty much on track, amassing 407 yards on 65 carries. Skylan Smith had 91 yards on 19 touches and Mason added 72 yards on eight carries.
The Chargers (4-0 overall, 2-0 region) go into a bye week this week healthy and pretty much injury free. Next up are the Dyersburg Trojans on the road Oct. 1 in a key region game.
“Dyersburg has several skill players who will test us,” Kirby said. “We have a little advantage in depth but the Trojans will come after us. Coach Bart Stowe is experienced and a solid coach. Matt Shearon, a former Covington coach, is on their sideline and he knows us well. I believe that this will be the game that goes a long way toward deciding the region championship.”