Owensboro Catholic relied on a more balanced attack than usual Friday night in their 46-22 rout of Todd County Central at Steele Stadium in the first round of the high school football Class 2A state tournament.
With the win, the Aces advance to the second round and will return home next week to host McLean County.
Dre Thruston played a pivotal role in the Aces’ offensive efforts, accounting for 90 yards on the ground and 86 through the air. He finished with three touchdowns, one of which was 65-yard punt return late in the first quarter that extended Catholic’s lead to 14-0. Thruston also had a 39-yard rushing score and a 35-yard reception for a touchdown.
Aces head coach Jason Morris alluded to some areas in the running game that they need to tighten up moving forward, but he really liked what he saw out of Thruston.
“We have to be able to run the football when we want to run the football and at this point, we’re not able to do that,” he said. “Thruston is a special talent back there. He’s explosive. A lot of the running that he did tonight was him relying on his athleticism.”
The Aces have been pass-heavy to date, primarily relying on the efforts of all-state candidate quarterback Drew Hartz. While Hartz continued to be effective, the ground game was successful in setting up several of their explosive passing plays.
A prime example came with 4:35 left in the first quarter, when the Aces used a run up the middle to set up a bootleg to the right for a 3-yard touchdown pass to Finley Munsey for a 7-0 lead.
Hartz finished the evening with four touchdowns and 302 passing yards. He distributed the ball with ease, connecting with a different receiver for each touchdown.
After an interception by Catholic’s Hagan Edge, Hartz tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Braden Mundy with 11:33 remaining in the first half.
After finding Thruston for a score, Hartz’ final touchdown pass came with 2:38 left in the game when he connected with Max Byrne for a 19-yard strike. Chris Boarman added a 3-yard touchdown run for the Aces.
Todd County Central only scored once in the first half on a 5-yard plunge late in the first quarter. They also scored once each in the third and fourth periods.
“We bend and we bend, and we don’t break,” Morris said. “We score fast and in the end, we were able to score enough points to take care of business.”
Morris is pleased with any win at this point in the season, understanding that any team they face is prepared to give the Aces their best effort.
“This time of year you’re always happy with a win. It’s survive and advance and we survived this one,” he said. “Whoever we face is going to give us their best shot and every week is going to be a battle.”
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2019 football coverage is presented in part by Owensboro Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.