An hour-long lightning delay didn’t take the edge off the Covington football team during Friday’s season opener against Holy Cross.
The Lions reeled off 17 consecutive points in the second quarter, which gave them just enough cushion to hold off the visiting Tigers 24-21 at Covington’s Jack Salter Stadium.
Covington led by as many as 24 points in the third quarter, after taking the opening kick of the second half and moving 65 yards in 10 plays. Tyran Garrett rolled up the middle of the defense for a 3-yard run and the PAT increased the margin to 24-0.
Holy Cross answered with two scores within 35 seconds of one another later in the third. Kyle Schexnayder scored on a 3-yard quarterback keeper and followed with a 2-point conversion run. After a fumble recovery by Taylor Fleming, running back Tre Turner went untouched up the middle for a 16-yard score. The two-point pass failed, but got the Tigers to within 10 points at 24-14.
The Tigers pulled to within three points with 10:25 left in the game when Turner rumbled around right end for a 42-yard touchdown. Reed Gravolet kicked the PAT to make the score 24-21.
Holy Cross got to the Lions’ 27 with 1:25 left in the game, but Gravolet’s 44-yard field goal attempt was short and wide left.
Holy Cross looked like it would score on its first possession, but a fumble proved costly. After moving to the Covington 7-yard line on a seven-play drive, the Tigers gave up the ball and the Lions’ Matthew Thompson scooped it up.
After trading drives, Covington scored, courtesy of its defense. On a third-and-6 from its 41, Schexnayder threw into the right flat, but the ball was intercepted by Covington safety George Brister. Brister caught the ball in mid-stride and outraced all pursuers for a 68-yard touchdown. Covington’s Ian Connelly kicked the PAT and the Lions led 7-0.
The score seemed to ignite Covington. After holding Holy Cross to three plays on the next drive, the Lions drove to the Holy Cross 13-yard line and Connelly booted a 30-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0.
Another defensive stand by Covington led to another punt, and a high snap on that play resulted in only a 4-yard kick by the Tigers. Five plays later, Covington scored again on a 1-yard touchdown plunge over center by Josh Bickham. The score ended a five-play drive that covered 42 yards.
Holy Cross drove to the Covington 23 in the final seconds of the first half, but a 40-yard field goal attempt was blocked, which allowed the Lions to go into halftime with a 17-0 lead.
Despite the lopsided halftime score, the teams had similar statistics at that point. Holy Cross had 180 total yards, and Covington had 143 after two quarters.
Turner led Holy Cross with 150 yards on 23 carries. Schexnayder ran 16 times for 107 yards, and threw for 150 additional yards. Covington ran for 238 yards, with Bickham leading the way with 90 yards on 15 carries.