A late rushing touchdown from senior Tramel Barksdale was the difference maker on Friday night, as Owensboro defeated Graves County on the road 35-28.
The Eagles got on the board first early in the game, as a 13-yard rushing touchdown made it a 7-0 game with 7:08 left in the first quarter.
The Red Devils responded swiftly, as a 99-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff by junior Khalil Rogers tied things at 7-7 with 6:52 left in the first quarter.
Owensboro expanded on their lead towards the end of the quarter, as Barksdale punched it in from the two-yard line to make it a 14-7 game.
The Red Devils defense pounced on the opportunity to create some offense in the opening minutes of the second quarter, as junior Zach Clark intercepted the ball and took it 21 yards to the house.
This grew their lead to 21-7, giving Owensboro a commanding lead with 11:54 left to play in the first half.
The Eagles couldn’t muster up any more offense for the remainder of the half, as the Red Devils walked into the locker room holding a 21-7 lead.
Graves County’s defense got a pick-six of its own shortly into the second half, as a 55-yard return made it a 21-14 game with 11:17 left in the third quarter.
After an interception for Owensboro later turned into a fumble by the Eagles halfway through the third quarter, Barksdale came through again late.
The senior running back ran one in from the one-yard line this time, making it a 28-14 game with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
Just when it seemed that the Red Devils had all momentum, Graves County came roaring back to tie the game up.
A six-yard rushing touchdown cut the Eagles deficit to 28-21 and a fumble from Barksdale quickly put Graves County at the 50 with 10:53 left to play.
They followed this up with a 41-yard rushing touchdown, knotting things up at 28-28 with 8:31 left to play.
Following the game-tying touchdown the game reached a stalemate, as it wasn’t until the final minute of play that the game was ultimately decided.
It was none other than Barksdale once again with 37 seconds left in the game, running 10 yards up the middle to give the Red Devils a 35-28.
Graves County had one last chance to force overtime, but a fourth down sack from junior Sahvon Hines as time expired made the difference, giving Owensboro the 35-28 road win.
Defensively Owensboro had to make adjustments in the second half in order to secure the win, as the Eagles strayed from their typical offensive schemes.
“They’ve had a lot of success with Defreitas back there at quarterback,” Head Coach Jay Fallin said. “He’s young you know, but he’s had a ton of success all season. I think the rain was affecting him a lot and I think probably the most physical defense he’d played against and [was facing] as good of a secondary he’s seen since week one and that was frustrating them.”
Given this frustration, the Eagles put senior Mason Grant and the dynamic senior Clint McKee both in the backfield and let them run amuck. The Red Devils responded well, as Fallin said they kept fighting all night long and limited their big plays when they needed to.
“I thought the defense probably had their best performance of the season and grew up a ton tonight…” Fallin said. “They come out and score off of a short field because of an offensive turnover, but the defense didn’t quit. They kept fighting and held a really good offense that’s scoring 40 points a game to seven in the first half.”
Meanwhile Barksdale was a key cog in Owensboro’s offense, running all over Graves County while earning three touchdowns.
“We’ve been telling him for two weeks, ‘Tramel it’s going to be your night and you’re going to get the carries and you’re going to have to deliver’ and he did,” Fallin said. “We felt confident that he would.”
The Red Devils win moves them to 7-1 on the season, winning its last seven games after falling in the season opener.
Owensboro will return home next week, looking to continue its winning ways against Grayson County at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22.