Drew Hartz was nearly perfect Friday night, throwing for six touchdowns and more than 404 yards to lead Owensboro Catholic to a dominant 68-27 win over Ohio County.
The Aces (1-0) relied on a high-powered offense fueled by Hartz, who continues to garner praise from head coach Jason Morris.
“He’s a special kid, I’ve been saying it for three years,” Morris said. “I’ve pushed him hard this offseason, and we’re going to ride him. I think he is one of the better quarterbacks in our nation, and I really believe that. He plays at an elite level, can make every throw there is, keeps a good level head, and he’s a lot better athlete than he gets credit for.”
For a full photo gallery from the game, click here.
Catholic’s special teams also played pivotal roles in propelling them to victory, securing three touchdowns. Dre Thruston returned a punt for one touchdown and added an 80-yard kickoff return for another, while Braden Mundy scooped up a punt and took it 60 yards for a score.
“We have the potential to be electric all year long on special teams,” Morris said. “Braden Mundy and Dre Thruston are great returners, as are the other guys we put back there. We could take it to the house at any time.”
Morris attributed much of the team’s success to their ability to slow down Ohio County’s running game, led by junior running back Q McHenry. That was a major emphasis entering the contest.
“I think McHenry is the best running back in the state,” Morris said. “We knew he was going to get loose, but we also trained our kids not to panic when that happened. I’m really proud of my defensive coordinator, Lincoln Latham – he put together a great game plan, and we just kept scoring.”
The Eagles (0-1) managed 27 points on the back of McHenry, who led the team in total yards and scored all four of their touchdowns, but it was not enough to keep up with the aerial assault of the Aces.
Ohio County head coach and Owensboro native DaMarcus Ganaway alluded to several aspects that his team must improve on moving forward.
“We still have some inconsistencies in a lot of areas,” Ganaway said. “We have to tackle in space, be better on special teams and finish drives. There were little things that we didn’t capitalize on tonight – the opportunity is there and the potential is there, we just have to learn how to win.”
Catholic struck first when Hartz completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Staples down the sideline. On the ensuing possessions, Thruston returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown and Hartz completed a 58-yard pass to Mundy for a 20-0 lead with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
Ohio County abruptly returned the favor when McHenry rushed 71 yards for a touchdown on the subsequent possession. McHenry later added three more touchdowns — a 12-yard reception, a pitch that he took 57 yards and a 65-yard rush where every move he had was on display.
The first quarter ended with a penalty a sack by Ohio County’s Shane Frady that put the Aces in 4th-and-20 from the Eagles’ 40-yard line. Hartz then connected with Jackson Staples for a 45-yard touchdown just seven seconds in the second quarter.
Hartz found Staples (10 catches, 137 receiving yards) two more times four touchdowns.
The Aces’ receiving core was big all night as Braden Mundy (8 receptions 140 yards), Brice Boarman and Luke Evans each recorded one touchdown apiece. Will Edge secured the Aces’ lone rushing touchdown on a 3-yard rush up the middle.
The Aces make a short trip across town when they return to action Aug. 30 to take on Daviess County (0-1) at the remodeled Reid Stadium. Morris has high expectations for the first game of city-county play.
“We’re one week at a time, so we’re going to give the exact same kind of focus to Daviess County as we have to Ohio County,” Morris said. “We know Daviess County is really good upfront. We’re going to have to take care of the bumps and bruises that we have, and we’ll come in on Monday relying on our senior leadership to carry us through Friday.”
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2019 football coverage is presented in part by Owensboro Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.