OWENSBORO — Owensboro made some big plays in the return game, and its offense also really clicked on the way to a 54-19 win Friday over Warren East in the Class 4A playoffs.

OHS quarterback Nick Locher ran for three touchdowns and passed for another at Rash Stadium. There was also a 72-yard kickoff return by TJ James for a touchdown, and a 42-yard punt return by Jahlil Barrett for a score.

It was overall a quick-strike kind of night for the No. 8 Red Devils (9-3). They will host Franklin-Simpson for the regional championship next week. Franklin-Simpson beat Madisonville-North Hopkins 21-16.

“We played a pretty good game,” Locher said. “I don’t think it was our best game, but it was good enough to get the job done. Special teams were big. We’ve been preaching that all year.”

Locher did a good job with fakes and reads in the OHS option game. His first touchdown run of 21 yards was after a very good fake to the fullback. Locher followed that with a 14-yard option run to put OHS up 14-7 in the first quarter.

Locher hit a wide-open Airius Phillips for a 25-yard touchdown that put OHS up 34-12. Phillips also had a 16-yard touchdown run, and Locher scored on a 2-yard keeper. He was sacked in the end zone for a safety, but it didn’t do much damage to the Red Devils.

Kaeshaun Dulin also ripped free for a 68-yard touchdown run for the Devils.

“Our offense did very well tonight, other than had a two-minute spell where we got sacked for the safety and we fumbled,” OHS coach Joe Prince said. “Other than that we played a great game.”

Barrett had the first big moment on a return for the Devils, taking a punt at the East 42 and working his way up the right side of the field to the end zone and a 21-7 OHS lead.

OHS finished with 187 rushing yards, and Locher threw for 45 yards.

Warren East’s season ended at 7-5. Austin Pagel hit 13 of 32 passes for 175 yards, and East finished with 250 yards in total offense.

WEHS 7 5 0 7 — 19

OHS 21 13 20 0 — 54

First quarter

OHS — Locher 21 run (Cundiff kick)

WEHS — Gilbert 65 pass from Pagel (Selvidge kick)

OHS — Locher 14 run (Cundiff kick)

OHS — Barrett 42 punt return (Cundiff kick)

Second quarter

WEHS — Safety

WEHS — Selvidge 29 FG

OHS — James 72 kickoff return (run failed)

OHS — Phillips 25 pass from Locher (Cundiff kick)

Third quarter

OHS — Dulin 68 run (Cundiff kick)

OHS — Locher 2 run (kick failed)

OHS — Phillips 16 run (Cundiff kick)

Fourth quarter

WEHS — Gilbert 5 pass from Pagel (Selvidge kick)

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