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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Upset! South Defeats Covington

In a battle which came down to the ball control ground attack of Covington and the passing attack of South. It was South which managed to put together a late drive that scored the winning touchdown with seconds left for a 34-30 win. This game upsets the both the conference and the state playoff possibilities for several teams. Where it appeared that Covington was in the drivers seat for the conference title, now it is a 3 way tie between Covington, Miami East, and South. And for the first time this season, South has a sniff of play off hopes – the dividend of computer points pops them into the top 12 of the district for the first time this season.

South came into the game licking their wounds from an upset loss themselves the week before where Bethel narrowly beat them in the last minutes of that game. Host Covington on the other hand came into the game with momentum having narrowly beat both North and Miami East in back to back victories. So a lot of league observers did not expect South to have much of a chance. But for the second year in a row, South rang up a victory over the Buccaneers. An achievement in itself as Covington has been the standard by which other CCC teams judge themselves.

Quarterback Jacob Bassler put up over 300 yards on the night. Receiver JJ Utz got the most of the yardage (about 150) – scoring a total of 4 touchdowns. Although South has shown that they can pass the ball this season, they have relied on the run for their previous games. But coach Cates acknowledged after the game that he knew that Covington can run against anyone, that they would have a rough time shutting down the run. But he thought that the Covington secondary could be exposed and so he would call more passing plays than in any other game that he has play called. And the results of this change in strategy speak for themselves.

It was a back and forth game. After stopping South on 4th down, Covington scored first. But South answered right back with a scoring drive after the kickoff. At the half it was a 15-14 in favor of Covington. Both offenses continued to move the ball well in the second half. South did have a big defensive stand on a 4th and 2 situation. Covington has done well converting on 4th down this season, but South defense made the stop at midfield. The short field would set up a South score on their series.

With 3 minutes left in the game, Covington ended an 8 minute drive with a go ahead score. This set up the final drive for South. South executed well and converted 2 4th downs en route to the end zone. With 8 seconds left JJ Utz caught a Jacob Bassler pass for the go ahead score. South opted for a squib kick on the kickoff and special teams responded with a big play, recovering the ball to end any thoughts of a Covington comeback.

Defensively for South both Aaron Deaton and Chad Ehler were leading tacklers for the team. The two accounted for around 30 tackles between them.

“They are a hard, well disciplined football team,” said coach Cates afterwards, “We thought that we could throw on them. So we took advantage of that and our kids really executed. It was the most pass plays that I had ever called. But we wanted to take advantage at what they gave us. “

On the ability to bounce back, “I am proud of way they responded to the loss to Bethel. After that loss, the team could have just gone into the tank. But they responded well. On that last drive they were fired up and the team responded instead of just giving up. We remembered what it was like to lose a close game, and they were determined that it wasn't going to happen again.”

Next he was asked about Jacob Bassler, “As a senior quarterback he had an amazing game. He had pressure in his face, but made some incredible throws. He made excellent decisions. JJ Utz had a phenomenal night too. On a lot of the catches he made people miss to get yards after catch. Sammy Shockey and Mike Myers had good nights receiving as well. With 3 good receivers, it makes it hard for the defense to keep them all covered.”

Next weeks game, “North has had our number the last few years. They are a well coached football team. They have a lot of great players on their team. They are a huge threat, they are our rivals. They have some strong, big kids up front. They have running backs that can go the distance, and their defense is usually stout. Our kids are aware of what happened last year – the kids remember that. It is also our senior night so it is going to be emotional that way too. They are a good team, we have to remember how we executed tonight. Very few penalties and very few mistakes like turnovers. That is what you need to do to win big games.”

South (6-2) hosts North (5-3) next Friday night.

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