COVINGTON — Skyler Barnett blamed himself.
When Narrows scored a late touchdown to beat Covington last week, perhaps no player took it harder than Barnett did.
“That was my man that scored the touchdown last week,” said Barnett, a sophomore defensive back. “I felt like I let the team down, but I felt I had to do better this week to get this done.”
Barnett and his teammates rebounded in a big way on Friday night, forcing six turnovers on defense and getting a big rushing night from Shaun Smith Jr. to defeat visiting Parry McCluer 19-7 at Casey Field.
After their 32-28 loss to Narrows, the Cougars had some attrition. Four players who were on the roster for that game no longer are.
“We just had to stick with each other,” Covington senior receiver Jaun Miller said. “We had a couple people quit on us, but we know that the people out here, as long as we stuck together and played as a family, we’d be fine.”
Miller helped set the tone early by scoring touchdowns on a 16-yard run and a 30-yard reception that staked the Cougars (5-2, 1-1 Pioneer District) to a 12-0 halftime lead.
He also helped stabilize the depleted defense by making one of Covington’s five interceptions.
“We’ve had to simplify down to the bare bones of what you can do as a high school team,” Cougars coach Chris Jones said. “We need to win the rest of them so we can play at home. Just proud of the way we came together, man. A lot of adversity this week.”
Smith ran for 180 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, regularly falling forward after his physical runs.
“I thought it was amazing, but I couldn’t do anything without my line,” Smith said. “My line’s everything.”
Covington limited Fighting Blues running back Marcellius Dawson to 84 rushing yards. Although Dawson did break free for an 80-yard touchdown reception in the second half, Parry McCluer (3-4, 1-1) struggled to sustain drives offensively.
“We just didn’t have it together tonight, man,” Parry McCluer coach Mark Wheeler said. “We made way too many mistakes. We’re just going to have to keep clawing and scratching and come back for next week. This definitely hurts, but we’ve got to come back Monday and get back to work.”
For an example of how to rebound, the Fighting Blues could look to Barnett, who came up with an interception to help bury his bad memories from last week.
“We just had to put that behind us and realize that if we win out for the rest of the season, we’ll get a home regional game,” Barnett said. “That’s what we wanted.”
Parry McCluer 0 0 7 0 — 7
Covington 6 6 0 7 — 19
C—Miller 16 run (kick failed)
C—Miller 30 pass from Gibson (run failed)
PM—Dawson 80 pass from Claytor (Wooten kick)
C—Smith run (Baker kick)
Rushing yards 102 204
Comp-Att-Int 8-19-5 9-17-1
Passing yards 153 144
First downs 12 17
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-60 7-70
Punts-Avg. 1-12 2-33
Rushing — Parry McCluer, Dawson 13-84, Moore 9-30, Claytor 1-(minus-12). Covington, Smith 31-180, Miller 6-14, Heighter 1-10.
Passing — Parry McCluer, Claytor 8-19-5 153. Covington, Gibson 9-17-1 144.
Receiving — Parry McCluer, Dawson 3-80, Garrett 2-34, Moore 2-22. Covington, Miller 6-84, Williams 1-28, Smith 1-18, Morgan 1-14.