By ANTHONY STEVENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
HONAKER, Va. —
Coming into Friday night, the Honaker Tigers knew they needed to play mistake free football.
It didn’t happen. Three turnovers were costly as Honaker (10-2) suffered a season-ending loss to Covington 25-0 at a rain drenched EMATS Stadium. Covington (9-3) will advance to play Fort Chiswell in the 1A-West playoffs.
“Turnovers and the big play before halftime were the big factors,” Honaker coach Doug Hubbard said. “Covington had some good speed to run us down. For a team like us, you can’t make mistakes. We had a lot of opportunities we didn’t take advantage of. It wasn’t from lack of effort, my kids tried.”
The game started as a defensive struggle. In the first five possessions, the teams combined for five punts.
Late in the second stanza, Honaker took over at their own 13 and had their best drive of the game. In nine plays, they moved the the Covington 36. But on a 2nd-and-10 Tiger quarterback Casey Dye was intercepted by Raquann Matthews. Covington took over at their seven with 1:59 to play in the first half.
It took only four plays and a little over a minute for the Cougars to score.
In Covington’s “Polecat” formation with five linemen lined up to the side of the field, they snapped the ball directly to Brandon Phillips who raced up the middle for a 64-yard touchdown run. It stunned Honaker and seemed to give the Cougars all the momentum.
“The polecat has been a staple for us the last two years,” said Covington coach Rodney Tenney. “We actually scored on that 11 times last year. We’ve kind of adapted it over time and it was very successful tonight.”
Covington got another huge break when Honaker fumbled the second half kickoff and it was recovered by Mikey Woodson. Four plays and a 16 yard drive culminated with Phillips scoring from two yards out to go up 13-0.
Two turnovers, two scores for the Cougars.
That was more than enough offense for Covington. Honaker couldn’t get its offense established the entire game. The Cougars held the Tigers to 190 yards of total offense.
The Covington 16 was as close as Honaker could get to scoring and a sack quickly took them out of scoring position.
“Our defense played lights out,” Tenney said. “We knew we were up against a good football team. We knew we had to come down here and play hard, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Covington added two more touchdowns. Phillips scored his third TD when he caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Matthews, again in the “polecat” formation late in the third quarter.
They added a final touchdown when Jordan Miller broke free on a 35-yard run with 3:32 left to play. The Cougars had 306 yards of total offense.
After heavy graduation losses after last season, the Tigers finished the year with 10 wins. The bulk of the team will return next season.
“I’m just so proud of these kids, they fought until the end,” remarked Hubbard. “I think once they get a chance to get over the disappointment of the loss and reflect back on the season they will be proud of what they accomplished. Especially the seniors through their careers.”
At EMATS Stadium
Covington..........................0 7 12 6 — 25
Honaker.............................0 0 0 0 — 0
COV--Phillips 64 run (Dressler kick)
COV--Phillips 2 run (kick failed)
COV--Phillips 22 pass from Matthews (pass failed)
COV--Miller 35 run (kick failed)
First Downs: COV 10, HON 11; Rushes-Yards: COV 36-245, HON 27-125; Passing Yards: COV 61, HON 65; Comp-Att-Int: COV 10-17-1, HON 9-27-1; Fumbles-Lost: COV 0-0, HON 3-2; Penalties-Yards: COV 2-23, HON 2-15; Punts-Average: COV 3-36, HON 3-37.