OWENSBORO – The Daviess County offense took the opening kickoff and scored in just a little more than three minutes.
Then, the Panthers really got going.
A pair of first-quarter interceptions that were returned for touchdowns pushed the home team’s advantage to 21-0 before the DC offense ever got back on the field. The Panthers rolled on to build a 35-0 lead and won 42-9 Friday night at Reid Stadium.
The game decided the runner-up spot in the four-team Class 6A District 2. With the victory, Daviess County earned a home-field advantage in the first round of state playoffs on Nov. 2.
Marshall County, which finished second to Henderson County last year and played at home when the playoffs opened, got a 38-yard field goal by Brock Herndon just before halftime and an eight-yard touchdown run by Tycen Henry just before the game ended.
Coach Ron Barnard didn’t pull any punches in his evaluation.
“We never got off the bus,” Barnard said. “For whatever reason, we never got off the bus. That was one of the most embarrassing losses I’ve ever been associated with.”
The one-sided nature of the game was unexpected. Marshall came in with the better overall record, 5-3 to Daviess’ 3-5.
But their 1-1 records in district play held a clue. The Panthers whipped Muhlenberg County 57-0 a week before Friday night’s encounter. The week before that, Marshall had to have a last-second score to survive 1-8 Muhlenberg 20-16.
Still, Barnard said he was “stunned” by the way his team was manhandled.
“We didn’t get beat by a better team,” he insisted.
Barnard benched most of his starters as the second half got under way. His son, sophomore Cole Barnard replaced junior Clay Allen and directed the Marshal attack midway in the third period.
The understudy drove the Marshals toward two scoring opportunities in the fourth period.
After Daviess pushed the lead to 42-3 early in the fourth period, the Marshals returned a squib kick to the Daviess 35. Barnard hit senior Noah Steele with a pass that went for a 17-yard gain to the Panther 14. The drive stalled there, but Herndon had a shot at a 32-yard field goal, which missed wide left with 7:47 to go.
On the next Panther possession, the Marshals forced a fumble and Travis Griggs recovered for Marshall County at the Daviess 33.
The Marshals immediately gave the ball back when Marty Holbrook had the ball knocked loose after a 16-yard gain, but Daviess didn’t keep it long before another fumble was recovered by the Marshals’ Collin Gunn.
This time, the Marshals found the end zone. Holbrook carried three times to move the ball from the 33 to the eight, and on a second-and-one play, Henry took it across the goal line.
The score came at the 1:37 mark. Daviess ran out the clock.
The Marshals lost their way early on. Allen’s first interception went to Dalton Richardson, who ran it back 38 yards for the game’s second TD.
On the next possession, Allen was hit as he threw the ball. Panthers defensive lineman Blake Clouse gathered in the wobbly toss and rumbled 69 yards, and with three seconds left in the opening period, the Marshals trailed 21-0.
The DC offense got the next two tallies, on a 32-yard run that gave Reed his second TD of the night and a three-yard run by Darrius Crite, a senior who shares quarterback duties with freshman Jarod McEwen and spends the rest of his time at running back.
The Marshals got on the scoreboard just before intermission. Steele had a 15-yard kickoff return to the 29, Allen picked up 13 yards on a keeper, and then a pass from Allen to Steele covered 18 yards to the Daviess County 40.
Another pass, this one to Cody Gregory, was good for 20 yards as the Marshals managed the dwindling time. A screen pass to Steele moved the ball to the 13, where Steele stopped the clock by getting out of bounds.
An incomplete pass and a sack of the Marshal quarterback at the 22 brought on Herndon for a 38-yard field goal. It was good and the Marshals trailed 35-3 with nine seconds left before halftime.