COVINGTON — Fort Loramie faced adversity for the first time this season on Thursday. It wasn’t anything they couldn’t handle.
After trailing for the first time this year, the Redskins scored six unanswered touchdowns and ran away from Covington to a 41-7 Cross County Conference victory at Smith Field.
Covington drove 68 yards on 11 plays on the first possession of the game and scored on a 4-yard run from Duncan Cooper to take a 7-0 lead with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
It was the first touchdown Fort Loramie’s defensive starters had allowed all season — and it was the only they allowed on Thursday.
The Buccaneers (3-1) managed to gain 32 yards the rest of the game.
“One of the things that we preach, and these guys will tell you we do, is ‘Win the next play,’” Fort Loramie coach Spencer Wells said. “That was a great example. They had a great drive there and took it to us a little bit, and we just needed to focus on winning the next play and get it corrected.”
Fort Loramie (4-0) had few problems on offense. The squad scored on its first four possessions after Covington’s early TD to take control, surpassed 400 yards of offense in a game for the third time this season and nearly surpassed 500 yards of offense for the second time.
“I think that first drive hit us in the mouth, woke us up a little bit that we were going to have a game,” Fort Loramie senior quarterback/defensive back Collin Moore said. “We came out swinging once we got the chance.”
Moore completed 12-of-23 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 139 yards and three TDs on 10 carries. Sophomore receiver Logan Eilerman had 197 receiving yards on nine catches and scored two TDs while senior running back Nate Meyer gained 115 rushing yards and scored one TD.
“We made some good plays the first few weeks, but we were just off a little bit in our timing and really getting in a rhythm offensively,” Wells said. “That’s something we’ve been talking about, and I think that kind of came to fruition tonight.
“Logan Eilerman is getting better and better for us on the edge on the outside. It’s fun. Hopefully we can continue to get better and build off of this.”
After the Buccaneers took the early lead, Moore ran up the middle on the team’s first play and raced 65 yards for a touchdown to tie it 7-7 with 6:27 left.
“That was probably the biggest hole I’ve ever ran through,” Moore said. “I think (Covington’s) linebackers split to the outside; I don’t know what they did. That was just a great hole and great blocking by our offensive line.”
After a three-and-out by Covington, Fort Loramie quickly drove 69 yards, 54 of which came on a pass from Moore to Eilerman. Moore finished the drive with a 3-yard TD run to put the Redskins ahead 14-7 with 2:32 left in the first.
After another three-and-out, Fort Loramie went on another long drive, which Moore capped by throwing a 7-yard TD pass to Eilerman with 8:04 left in the second quarter to boost the lead to 14 points.
The Buccaneers went three-and-out again, but Fort Loramie fumbled the punt, and Covington recovered near the red zone. The Redskins forced the Buccaneers into a turnover on downs, and Moore threw a 49-yard TD pass to Eilerman with 2:48 left to boost the lead to 27-7 after a missed extra point.
The Redskins didn’t move the ball much in the third quarter in part due to penalties but put the game away in the fourth. Meyer gained 70 yards on three carries and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 34-7.
Owen Pleiman then intercepted a pass at Covington’s 23-yard line, and Moore scored on a 1-yard run with 10:06 left to push the margin over 30 points and start a running clock.
Wells credited Pleiman, a junior, for stepping up at cornerback. The team lost cornerback Damon Mescher for the season due to injury in Week 1, and cornerback Lucas Puthoff suffered an injury on Thursday.
“He stepped right up and played a whale of a game,” Wells said of Pleiman. “He made that interception and also made a lot of key tackles. I’m so proud of him and the defense in general with what they were able to do tonight.”
The two squads entered the Thursday night televised matchup undefeated. The game was likely the defacto CCC championship game as the two teams have been drastically better than all other conference squads the last two years.
Fort Loramie finished first in CCC play last year while Covington finished second. The Redskins edged the Buccaneers 19-14 last year in Week 4; the closest margin of victory by either squad in a CCC game last season aside from their head-to-head matchup was 22 points.
Almost all of the teams’ conference contests last season were decided by running-clock margins of 30 or more points. That’s also been the case this year; Fort Loramie won its first three games by an average margin of 48 points while Covington won its first three games by an average margin of 28.3 points.
The Redskins are scheduled to travel to winless Twin Valley South next Friday and will then face an opponent to be determined in the official CCC championship game in Week 6.
Moore said the team is confident it can secure its third straight conference title but knows Thursday’s win doesn’t guarantee it.
“We still have to work hard the next two weeks and focus on the little things,” Moore said. “We’ve got to win the next play, keep our heads down and move forward.”
Due to the OHSAA shortening regular-season play this season, the CCC split its six teams into two divisions. Squads are playing five divisional games, and teams in the divisions will be paired by divisional standings for Week 6 matchups. The top two squads will be paired and meet in the conference’s official championship game.
Tri-Village (3-0) leads the other CCC division. The Patriots finished 5-5 last year and lost to Fort Loramie by 41 points; they didn’t face Covington.
It’s the final season for the CCC, which will disband after the school year.