There’s a good chance Milan and Covington will meet again in the postseason, but that did not make Friday night’s home loss to the Bulldogs any easier to stomach.
For the second straight season, Milan’s defense held Covington’s prolific attack in check and pulled out a dramatic 14-7 Region 7-3A win.
Covington coach J.R. Kirby was not happy after the game.
“We’ve lost two heartbreakers in a row to these guys,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to get it done. We had every opportunity to win it and we fought back. We couldn’t get anything offensively going. They’re a good football team. They just outplayed us.”
Last season in Milan, Covington drove inside Milan’s 10-yard line in the final minute but was unable to score and lost 14-7.
This year’s 14-7 loss came in triple overtime.
Milan (5-1 overall, 3-0 region) got the ball first in overtime and had a field goal blocked.
With a chance to win it with any kind of score on its first possession of OT, Covington fumbled on a first-down play from the 10.
“Probably, with a banged-up quarterback, we should have kicked the field goal and got out of here with a win 10-7,” Kirby said, “but I thought about running one play and trying to get (Marcus) Hayes in the end zone, but it just didn’t work out.”
Covington (6-1, 2-1) got it first in the second overtime and moved to the one-yard line on runs by Eumorrion Flowers and Hayes, but a fourth-down quarterback sneak by Carson Ruffin was stopped just shy of the goal line.
Milan lost a fumble on its double overtime possession but finally got on the board in triple overtime when Hayden Sullivan found Anthony Brown in the corner of the end zone.
Needing a touchdown to force a fourth overtime, Ruffin, under heavy pressure, was picked off by Fisher Jones on first down and the Bulldogs stormed the field with a win over the state’s second-ranked team.
The game’s states were eye-opening.
Covington entered the game averaging 316 rushing yards and 41 points per game. Milan held the Chargers to 159 rushing yards and zero points until the Chargers finally broke through with 1:03 left in the game.
On a fourth and four with Covington trailing 7-0, backup quarterback Tanner Stewart hit Jalen Fayne for five yards to keep the drive and Covington’s hopes for winning alive. On the very next play Stewart found Dalton Dickerson at the Milan 25 and he broke multiple tackles on a 36-yard touchdown. Gabriel Wellentin hit the extra point and the game went to overtime.
“It’s something we work on every week and we thought it’d be there,” Kirby said about the TD pass. “They were playing man and we thought if we could get Dickerson open it would pop. He made a great individual play and got in.”
Those two completions were the first two and last two for Covington.
Milan’s offense did not fare much better, producing 165 rushing yards. Their only pass completion came on the overtime touchdown.
Each team had just eight first downs.
The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead with 26 seconds left in the first quarter when Orlandis Williamson scored on a 44-yard run.
Covington’s defense was dominant in the second half, allowing just one first down and forcing punts on four straight Milan possessions.
The Chargers had a chance to tie the score midway through the fourth quarter when two first downs put them at the Milan 25, but a fumble ended that threat.
Ruffin left the game with an injury in the second quarter and played sparingly the rest of the way. Stewart hobbled off the field in overtime and Ruffin, clearly limping, entered the game on what would be the final play of the game.
Covington is off this Friday before traveling to Medina on Oct. 16 to play region foe South Gibson. Considering Milan beat South Gibson earlier this season, the Covington-South Gibson winner will likely finish second in the region.
“It was a tough loss,” Kirby said. “We kind of got behind the eight ball when we lost Carson, but I thought Tanner did a good job of managing the offense … Our kids fought. They showed a lot of heart and character to come back like that. I still believe in my guys. At the end of they day that loss is on me. I put it on me. I didn’t have ’em ready and we didn’t get it done.”