Covenant accelerates past Massanutten

It took Covenant a half to get in gear, but once they did, it was pretty overwhelming.

“We just said we don’t want these guys to have a breath of air,” said junior running back Austin Llera. “We came into it a little bit arrogant, I’m not going to lie, but we came (out of half time) focused and played hard.”

Covenant reeled off 27 straight points in the third quarter to jumpstart a 40-20 victory over Massanutten Military Academy Friday afternoon.

Quan Washington played a big role in that third quarter explosion, scoring from 44 yards out on a catch and run while also taking a punt return 55 yards to the hose. The return put the Eagles up 33-6 with 5:29 left in the third and culminated a strong day that was a marked change from Washington’s struggles earlier this year.

“I just tried to improve my vision and stop dancing so much and hit the hole and go,” Washington said. “I needed to keep my knees high and keep running.”

Washington’s third quarter performance capped a four-touchdown day for the running back. He was a big play machine all afternoon with a 35-yard catch and run where he broke several tackles along the sideline to score in the second quarter. He took a 25-yard shovel pass for a touchdown too in the first half.

Llera also got in on the third quarter action with a 24-yard touchdown run where he picked his way through the entire Massanutten defense. He also bounced back from an early fumble near the goal line to notch an interception and make a strip and recovery on a Massanutten running back in the backfield on a textbook defensive play. Llera was fighting through some sickness throughout the week leading up to the game and on into the contest.

“I just played for my team…I’m sick but I don’t want to use that as a crutch or anything,” Llera said. “I saw that (the Massanutten running back) had been hanging it out there a couple of times when they ran the option so I saw it and thought I’d try something.”

Covenant gave up a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns after taking a 40-6 lead including an interception return for a touchdown in the closing minutes, but the game was well in hand by that point.

Llera finished with 115 yards and his touchdown to lead the ground attack while Washington piled up 103 yards on his three catches that all went for touchdowns. Jay Gaffney finished 7 for 17 at quarterback with Washington handling the load.

Teddy Morse terrorized the Massanutten backfield all afternoon and finished with a team-high nine tackles, six of them solo stops. Drew Gaffney had five solo tackles and eight total stops on the day.