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They had their chances.
Turnovers and missed opportunities did in the Owen County High School Rebels Friday night at Patterson Field. Three first-quarter miscues and several empty possessions led to a season-ending defeat to Holy Cross.
The Indians defeated the Rebels 42-32 in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
The game was a rematch of last year’s second-round game when Holy Cross came to Owenton and defeated Owen County 45-0 to end a perfect season. The Indians would go on to win the Class 2A state championship.
After one quarter Friday night, it appeared the Rebels were going to let their playoff hopes literally slip right through their hands.
An Owen County interception and two fumbles led to a 13-0 deficit as Holy Cross senior Burt Pouncy turned two of the turnovers into short touchdown runs.
The Rebels got some of the momentum back on the first play of the second quarter when Collin Trammel took the hand-off and raced 42 yards for the score to make the score 13-7.
Following the score, the Rebels’ defense forced the punt and stopped Holy Cross on fourth down on back-to-back drives. The offense also began to make some plays as they drove the ball deep inside Holy Cross territory before attempting a 27-yard field goal. Nathan Rivera’s kick was unsuccessful and gave the ball back to the Indians.
Holy Cross would take advantage when with 54 seconds left in the half, Pouncy got free for 32-yard touchdown run to push the lead back to 21-7.
The Rebels wasted no time in responding. After a nice kickoff return by Zac Widner gave Owen County the ball at the Holy Cross 40-yard line, senior Paul Banks busted through the line and went for a score to cut the deficit to 21-13. The run was impressive considering Banks had sustained a sprained ankle on the opening kickoff and was playing with the ankle heavily taped.
The good feelings would not last long for the Rebels. On the first play after the touchdown, Pouncy ran right past the Owen County defenders and caught a 35-yard touchdown to make the score 28-13 at the half.
The second half began well enough for the Rebels as they stopped Holy Cross on fourth down before Banks broke off his second long run of the night.
This time, he went 33 yards for the score to cut the Indians’ lead to 28-20.
As they did all night, when Holy Cross needed an answer they got it. Again it was Pouncy who scored his fifth touchdown of the game to give his team the 35-20 lead with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
Much like Pouncy for the Indians, Banks was having a big night for the Rebels. The senior added his third touchdown run of the game in the closing seconds of the third quarter when he ran 43 yards for the score. After a missed extra-point, the score was 35-26 as the two teams headed to the fourth quarter.
Owen County High School Head Football Coach Adam Fowler said he was impressed by the effort he saw from the injured Banks.
“Paul was outstanding with a pretty badly sprained ankle,” Fowler said. “He showed what type of young man he is.”
Banks was not the only Rebel who was battling an injury. Senior John Gaines had been rehabbing from an injury all season and was able to play in the only game of his senior year on Friday night.
“I am very proud of him,” Fowler said.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Indians would all but put the game out of reach when Devyn Herndon scored from six-yards out to make the score 42-26 with 11:32 to play in the contest.
Owen County would score on more time on the night with 7:41 left to play when Adam Hazlett tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Chris Day. The Rebels failed to convert the 2-point conversion and the score remained 42-32.
Owen County had a chance to get the ball back with just over five minutes to play but were unable to when Pouncy picked up the necessary yardage on a fourth down run.
Owen County would eventually get the football back deep inside its own territory with two minutes left. Their final drive of the season would end with a turnover to allow Holy Cross to run out the clock.
Fowler knows his team left some points on the field.
“We showed we could move the ball all night,” the coach said. “Unfortunately, we just had too many empty possessions.”
Even with the loss, Owen County finished the season 6-5. It’s the first time in a long time that the Rebels have had back-to-back winning seasons and hosted consecutive first-round home playoff games.
Holy Cross will advance to meet Newport Central Catholic on Friday night.