The Owensboro Catholic Aces have had seen their year end in the second round of the KHSAA Class 2A State Playoffs in back-to-back seasons but with a senior class that’s as close as family, a junior quarterback that can make plays all over the field and the ability to make big stops in pivotal situations, the Aces were ready to start their own streak Friday at Hancock County.
Catholic held a 27-26 lead late in the fourth quarter as the Hornets lined up for the two-point conversion that would give them a lead and most likely the district title as well but it wasn’t unfamiliar territory for either team.
The Aces fell to the Hornets on the same play several weeks ago when they were stopped short of the goal line but on Friday, it was Catholic that made the big play as they took down Hancock County 27-26 to advance to the third round of the KHSAA Class 2A State Playoffs for the first time since 2017.
“Very proud of my team and how we fought,” Catholic coach Jason Morris said. “As momentum was swinging their way, we didn’t completely quit. We came together and we found a way to make enough plays in the end. Hats off to Hancock County, they’ve got a really solid football team.”
To get that lead, Ace quarterback Braden Mundy did what he did all game — make plays. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Hornets started their drive and on the sideline, Mundy said when his defense gets a stop, he’ll make sure they get a score.
Several minutes later, after the Aces took over, Mundy went 75 yards to the house to give his team the 27-20 lead, the last lead they would need.
“I had that made in my mind already,” he said. “There was no stopping me. I was going to score. I had to do it for the seniors on my team.”
Morris said every player stepped up in Friday’s win as they were able to get over the hump.
“We’ve blown two leads in the last two years and almost did it again tonight,” he said. “This senior group has said it from day one, they’re not going to let that happen to them and they didn’t. I’m very proud of them for it.”
The Aces started the game on a 20-0 run with touchdowns by Mundy, Hunter Monroe and a Mundy touchdown pass to Reid Clark.
Catholic held its 20-0 lead with 3:58 left in the first half but the Hornets weren’t ready to let their home field be taken over just yet.
Hancock County scored the next 14 points to end the half 20-14 in favor of the Aces.
The Hornets scored on their opening drive in the third to make it 20-20 as neither team would find the endzone again until late in the fourth.
When asked what was the different between Friday and their last loss to the Hornets, Mundy said it was all about hard work.
“Harder work days in practice,” he said. “We put in hard days of work. Two and a half hour practices, we’re out there getting after it. We knew our defense was the big gamechanger and they came up and stopped Darian (Cole) on that final play.”
Ace defensive coordinator Lincoln Latham put the gameplan in place to not only stop the Hornets on that vital two-point conversation but also limit their run-heavy offense.
“I’m just proud of their effort,” he said. “We had three or four kids that ended up playing positions that they’ve barely practiced.”
Latham said they threw some different things at the Hornets in the second half.
“We don’t play anybody over 200 pounds hardly on defense,” he said. “They’ve got some big kids that run hard. We just gave them different looks in the second half. I don’t know if that confused them or if our guys were just playing harder.
Latham and his fellow coaches were all too familiar with being on the wrong side of two-point conversions, he said they had to change the tide.
“We’ve lost two district games in the last two years to two-point conversions, we lost by inches,” he said. “Our guys just beared down and they weren’t going to lose this one.”
Mundy agreed with his defensive coordinator and said they did what he expected them too.
“It’s truly a blessing,” he said of the win. “Our seniors deserve it, they did it for Logan. Our defense just made big plays tonight, like they have all season.”
Everyone in the community knows what the Aces have had to overcome this season. Morris said it’s been a trying year.
“Nobody’s been through what Owensboro Catholic’s been through,” he said. “I’ll argue with anybody about that. We lost the heart and soul of our team to start this thing in Logan Davis. This whole season is for him and I know he was watching over us tonight. It’s been tough and I’m so proud of my guys.”
The Aces now advance to the third round where they’ll hit the road to take on the Murray Tigers as Murray beat perennial power Mayfield in triple overtime Friday.