The Red Devils were clicking on all cylinders to open the Class 5-A high school football playoffs.
Owensboro got balanced contributions across the board, and the Red Devils held Muhlenberg County to just 70 yards of total offense in taking a 40-0 victory in the first round on a frigid Friday night at Rash Stadium.
"That's what we've hung out hat on this season -- defense," OHS coach Jay Fallin said, "and that's where we've got a lot of experience and a lot of seniors. It just means more to seniors, especially this time of year, because they know any Friday could be their last Friday. They do a really good job as a unit, players and coaches, of preparing during the week and knowing what to expect."
The Red Devils (10-1) surrendered just two first-half first downs, building a 28-0 advantage by intermission. Muhlenberg County (4-7) finished with six first downs for the game and was hampered by a second-half fumble and later a turnover on downs.
"I'm proud of the way the young guys came in and played on defense there at the end and got a stop," Fallin said. "Overall, defensively, I'm very pleased with the performance."
Offensively, OHS was paced by sophomore quarterback Gavin Wimsatt and junior running back Ethan Avery.
Wimsatt completed 12-of-21 pass attempts for 236 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, in addition to a 7-yard QB read option run that put the Devils up 21-0 with 4:09 left in the first period.
Avery added 101 yards and two scores -- a 24-yard scamper on Owensboro's second play from scrimmage and a 43-yard breakaway late in the second quarter -- on 12 carries.
The Red Devils' other first-half score was an 11-yard TD toss from Wimsatt to Austin Gough for a 14-0 lead midway through the opening period.
"We wanted to establish the running game," Fallin said. "We felt like we could, and did. Austin's healthy now, so he's able to come in for a two-back offensive look for us and be an additional blocker but also catch out of the backfield. ... That changes up what we can do and how we attack teams differently when we do that."
On the first play of the third quarter, Wimsatt threw a screen pass to Ben Flaherty, who took it 66 yards for a score and subsequent 34-0 lead.
Cameron Thompson went untouched for an 11-yard TD with 8:32 left in the third quarter, providing OHS with a 40-0 lead and forcing the KHSAA-mandated running clock.
"Ethan had a good night, and then Cameron came in and had a couple of big carries in the second half," Fallin added.
Fallin also credited his offensive line for giving Wimsatt and Owensboro's other scoring threats the room to operate.
"I thought (Wimsatt) played well," Fallin said. "Pretty accurate when he threw the ball. Had a couple of drops, but they were bringing a lot of pressure, and the offensive line was doing a nice job picking it up. I do think the O-Line played very well tonight.
"It's hard to really say until you watch the film, but through the course of coaching the game, it felt like the offensive line did a pretty nice job, both in the run game and in pass protection tonight."
Flaherty finished with three receptions for 76 yards and a TD to lead the Red Devils' wide receivers, Treyvon Tinsley grabbed three passes for 72 yards, and Steven Stevenson reeled in a 43-yard catch.
OHS will advance to next week's second round to host Graves County, which moved on with a 28-0 win over Grayson County.
"The great news is there's 16 teams left in 5-A. We're one of them, and we get to go back to practice on Monday," Fallin said. "Half the teams that went to play tonight are done. We're proud to be part of that field."
SECOND-ROUND TICKETS ON SALE TUESDAY
The Owensboro High School athletic department will begin selling tickets to the Red Devils' Class 5-A second-round playoff game against Graves County Tuesday morning.
Tickets are $8 and can be purchased from the OHS athletic department office.
MUHLENBERG COUNTY 0-0-0-0--0
O-Avery 24 run (Thurman kick)
O-Gough 11 pass from Wimsatt (Thurman kick)
O-Wimsatt 7 run (Thurman kick)
O-Avery 43 run (Thurman kick)
O-Stevenson 66 pass from Wimsatt (pass failed)
O-Thompson 12 run (kick failed)