CARENCRO — When the weather’s cold, successful teams run the football and create turnovers, according to Covington High coach Greg Salter.
For nearly 48 minutes Friday night Salter watched his Covington High football team follow that script almost to perfection.
Covington, seeded 25th, rushed for 368 yards, secured four turnovers and defeated eighth-seeded Carencro 34-0 in a first-round Class 5A state playoff football game.
The Lions (6-5) advanced to the regional round to play the winner of the Sam Houston-West Monroe contest.
Carencro (8-3), the 3-5A champion, was hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2011.
Salter said a check of the pre-game temperatures, already well into the mid-40s, determined what his team was going to do.
“We’re already a run-heavy team and we’ve played great defense the past four or five weeks,” Salter said.
Covington also intercepted the Bears three times and recovered one of two Carencro fumbles to keep the Bears away from the end zone.
Carencro also had difficulty containing the triple-edged Covington rushing game which featured quarterback Tyler Smith and running backs Joshua Bickham and Devin Brumfield.
The three backs accounted for 230 first-half rushing yards. The Lions also controlled possession for just over 20 minutes.
Bickham ran for 116 yards and a touchdown, while Brumfield, a freshman, scored twice and rushed for 125 yards. Smith ran four times for 51 yards.
Covington passed only once in the game and that was completed for a touchdown as Smith threw a 64-yard strike to wide receiver Cordara Laurant on the first offensive series of the second half.
Carencro offensive coordinator Kevin Faulk said that while Covington’s rushing attack was effective, his defenders contributed to the dismantling.
“You didn’t just see us miss a lot of tackles. That’s exactly what it was, plain and simple,” Faulk said.
Faulk said the turning point for the Bears came early, when Carencro was driving on the Lions during the game’s initial series.
Carencro running back Tyreik Campbell used five runs to reach the Covington 25. Then two plays later, Bears’ quarterback Tyler Gaspard was intercepted by defensive back Tyler Evans near the goal line.
Evans returned the pick to the Covington 19 and 15 plays later the Lions had the game’s first TD on a 5-yard Brumfield run.
“We were trying to have a good balance and then we get the interception and the momentum goes to (Covington). From there we couldn’t get it together after that,” Faulk said.
Covington not only controlled the clock, but the Lions dominated the first-half scoreboard.
The Lions used a 12-play drive in the second quarter to take a 13-0 lead. Then later in the period, Covington went another 80 yards in 11 plays to lead 20-0 with 31.6 seconds.
Carencro finished the intermission with only 73 rushing yards and another 52 passing.
Campbell ran for 86 yards on nine carries. Wide receiver Jordin Bossier caught five passes for 45 yards.