Rash Stadium was electric on Friday night as the Owensboro High School football program stunned widely favored South Warren. The Red Devils leaned on a solid running game and explosive defense to defeat the Spartans 53-22.
South Warren ended the regular season with the second-highest KHSAA RPI ranking in the state in Class 5A, while Owensboro ended the year at eighth. OHS head coach Jay Fallin credited his team’s relentless mindset on both sides of the ball with the big win.
“I’m really excited for our guys,” Fallin said. “I told the guys after the game in the huddle that there have been a couple of points this season where we weren’t playing traditional Red Devil football. But we knew we would be okay, especially if we just kept working.”
Owensboro (8-4) began the season 1-3 before picking up four consecutive victories. The high was short-lived after succumbing to an upset on the road at Madisonville-North Hopkins a few weeks ago. Fallin’s Devils bounced back with a win over Henderson County, a first-round 67-0 shutout over Ohio County, and now, a dominant performance against South Warren (9-3).
Already with a 25-16 lead, the Red Devils leaned on some impressive blocking to keep the ball on the ground and the clock running for most of the second half. They extended their lead to 32-16 after a couple of South Warren penalties, and a long Evan Hampton carry set up a 10-yard touchdown run for Derion Winstead.
“We knew we had to be ready to match their intensity, and we did that,” he said. “I’m really proud and happy – so many different guys made plays tonight, and that happens in wins like these. When things looked like they were going really poorly, like the 16 unanswered in the first half or the fumble in the second, someone stepped up.”
Owensboro was exercising some clock management and looked prime to put the game away with just under 10 minutes left in the final frame, but coughed up a fumble in their own end zone.
South Warren quickly marched it all the way downfield, and just as it appeared they were staging a comeback, Owensboro’s JaShawn Carr snagged an interception and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Red Devils a 39-16 lead with 7:33 remaining in the final frame.
“We get the ball downfield, and we look like we’re going to give them the final nail in the coffin. We fumble it, and three to four plays later, it looks like they’re going to score,” he said. “Then, our senior JaShawn Carr steps up and makes a great play.”
The Spartans responded swiftly, with quarterback Bryce Button leading them down the field and finding Colton Veltkam in the end zone for a second time on the night.
After recovering South Warren’s onside kick attempt, Owensboro’s offensive line created a substantial running hole for Evan Hampton, who took it 78 yards for his third touchdown of the game and a 46-22 lead. From that point on, it was all Owensboro.
“Our offensive line understands what being a Red Devil means. They understand the tradition of excellence and come to work every day. It’s not me, it’s them,” Hampton said.
Hampton added that momentum plays a pivotal role in the squad’s success. He said once they put the first 6 points on the board, they had the confidence to “get the job done.”
“All week, we told each other, ‘We can do this,’” he said. “Once we scored, we knew the offense would keep moving, and we were going to put trust in it.”
Owensboro forced multiple fumbles and jumped to an early 19-0 lead. South Warren retaliated with 16 unanswered points, forcing a back-and-fourth contest until Owensboro took control of the game in the second half.
With mere seconds remaining in the half, quarterback Trevor DeLacey launched the ball down the sideline to a sprinting Dereon Crowe, who reeled it in and took it 48 yards for a touchdown. The score gave Owensboro a 25-16 lead at the half.
“What a pass by TD (DeLacey) and catch by Dereon to stretch that lead out and give us some momentum going into the locker room,” Fallin said.
DeLacey finished the evening with 1 touchdown through the air and 1 on the ground on 139 yards passing and 49 yards rushing. Hampton recorded a game-high 195 yards rushing, 42 yards receiving, and 3 touchdowns. Crowe led the receiving core with 1 touchdown on 4 receptions and 83 yards receiving.
Next Friday, Owensboro will travel to Louisville Atherton (11-1) for the third-round matchup. If the Red Devils win, KHSAA will re-seed the remaining four teams, leaving several potential routes to the championship.