The Owensboro Red Devils didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard Friday in the Class 5A State Playoff opener. They forced a Breckinridge County fumble on the opening kickoff, which lead to an OHS touchdown just 21 seconds into the game.
The Red Devils rolled the Tigers 81-6 to advance to next week’s second round as they host familiar foe Graves County at Rash Stadium.
Owensboro coach Jay Fallin said they wanted to do a few different things on Friday night, and they achieved most of their goals.
“We wanted to stay healthy, we wanted to be efficient,” he said. “We wanted to score on every series and not give up first downs. Did a little of both early.”
Fallin said he saw some minor things in the early part of the game that he made note of but anytime a team doesn’t have a game for a few weeks, there are usually some cobwebs.
“I think it was just a product of the rust of being off for three weeks,” he said. “I think we do as good of a job as anybody of simulating game-like situations in practice but it’s just not the same. We’ve conditioned a lot during this time but I could still tell we weren’t quite in game shape because that’s something that can only be developed and enhanced by playing, and it’s been a while since we played a competitive game.
“Overall, 81 points, give up one score with the young guys … Pleased and healthy, most important thing. Moving on.”
The Red Devils led 21-0 with 7:07 left in the first quarter and didn’t let their foot off the gas until the final whistle sounded with 81 points on the scoreboard.
Owensboro led 41-0 after the first frame and carried a 55-0 lead into the half. Breckinridge scored their lone touchdown late in the game but it didn’t diminish the defensive effort of the Red Devils, as they scored multiple times on that side of the ball.
“We talked about it the last time we played them and this is something we try to emphasize to our kids all the time, winning the turnover battle is the number one way to increase your opportunity of winning,” Fallin said. “If you look at football games, if a team has a defensive score, they win that game like 80% of the time. Two defensive scores is almost insurmountable. It’s something we try to emphasize with our kids, to encourage a culture of turnovers.”
Gavin Wimsatt finished with three touchdowns through the air and an interception while several Red Devils grabbed rushing touchdowns. Ben Flaherty led the way through the air with 74 yards and two scores, while Eli Early and Treyvon Tinsley also had touchdown catches.
Lucas Hartz, Tramel Barksdale and Zach Clark all had defensive touchdowns for the Red Devils.
The victory now sets up a matchup with Graves County next week at Rash Stadium.
“We took care of them pretty early in the playoffs last year but that was a product of defensive touchdowns and turnovers, but you can never count on that,” Fallin said. “We’re expecting a much more competitive game, we’re expecting a four-quarter game against a good team, a well-coached team. It matters to their players just like it does to ours. It matters to their coaches, just like it does to ours. They’re going to play really hard and they’re going to have a good game plan and we’re going to have to execute and play well.”
Owensboro beat the Eagles 42-21 on Oct. 16 at home in a game in which Graves junior Clint McKee ran for 168 yards and a score.
Fallin said his guys are up for the challenge again.
“They’re a very self-motivated bunch,” he said. “They’re enthusiastic about the challenge. They don’t feel we played as well as we could the first time we played them. They’re excited to have an opportunity to come out and get another shot at them.”
Owensboro and Graves County play next week at Rash Stadium in the second round of the KHSAA Class 5A State Playoffs.