If the remnants of Hurricane Laura rolling through West Tennessee didn’t keep Haywood defenders from getting restful sleep last night, number 24 for Covington probably did.
Considering Covington junior fullback Eumorrion Flowers punished Haywood relentlessly between the tackles, including seven straight carries in the final minutes to finish off an impressive 20-13 win in Brownsville, the members of the Tomcat defense probably saw him in their dreams last night.
He rushed for 124 yards on 31 carries, which are solid stats but not unbelievable on paper. How he did it, though, had to be very frustrating for Haywood. On Covington’s final drive of the game, everybody knew he was getting the ball and where he was going to run, but it didn’t matter.
After Covington’s Keith Brown intercepted a Kyilan Newbern pass at the Covington 33 with 6:07 left in the game, Charger quarterback Carson Ruffin handed it to Flowers on nine of the next 12 plays as Covington marched to the Haywood 2 with five seconds left in the game.
Ruffin took a knee on the last play of the game and Covington left town with a win over a team ranked sixth in the state in Class 4A. Covington (2-0) is ranked third in Class 3A.
“No sir,” Flowers said when asked if he expected to get 31 carries. He had eight carries in the season opener against Munford. “I just had to step up … It (the middle) was the open spot. They couldn’t cover us there.”
Covington head coach J.R Kirby said handing the ball to their fullback 31 times was not the original game plan.
“We’ve got two great backs (Jamarion Dowell and Marcus Hayes) and they (Haywood) know that,” Kirby said. “We’ve got a pretty good passing game and we showed that last week. We made the adjustments at half time and started taking what they gave us. The fullback (run) was there.”
Covington took a 7-0 lead when Flowers finished off a seven-play, 58-yard drive with a one-yard TD run late in the first quarter.
Newbern tied the game with a two-yard TD run early in the second before Hayes (six carries, 38 yards) scored from two yards out to give Covington a 14-7 lead. The TD was set up by a 44-yard pass from Ruffin to Dowell.
It looked like Covington would hold a touchdown lead heading into the half until a roughing the punter penalty extended a Haywood drive. Newbern hit Marquis Mays on a 25-yard TD pass with 21 seconds left in the first half to cut the lead to 14-13.
Haywood (0-2) threatened to score two more times.
The first came when Flowers fumbled and the Tomcats recovered on the Covington 30. The Charger defense stopped Haywood on a fourth and four play moments later to end the threat.
Haywood’s other scoring opportunity was thwarted by Brown’s interception. Brown and Mays both had their hands on a quick slant pass, but when they hit the ground Brown had the ball.
“He was getting picked on early in the game,” Kirby said of Brown. “We challenged him at halftime, he made a heck of a play and we walked it down to win the game.”
Covington scored its third touchdown when Ruffin, who was 3 for 3 passing for 97 yards, scored on a four-yard run with 8:11 left in the game. The score capped off a 17-play, 83-yard drive that was highlighted by a 31-yard pass from Ruffin to Dalton Dickerson. Flowers ran nine times during that drive.
“Flowers had a big night, but Carson played well, too. Our defense, to hold them to 13 points and force some turnovers, was great,” Kirby said. “I’m so proud of our kids, to beat a 4A team like this ranked in the top 10 and pretty much dominate the second half. We could have stuck it in down there but there was no need to. We’ve got some class and we respect them. There was a lot of chatter and a lot of talk all week about this game. This is why we play this game. This a Pearl-Cohn-type game, like a semifinal. For us to come here and get it done, I was very proud of them. All we’re trying to do in these COVID times is keep social distance on that scoreboard.”