OHATCHEE — Ohatchee made year-old bad memories of a first-round playoff loss go away quickly and decisively Friday.
Quarterback Grayson Alward rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, running back Domonique Thomas added 137 and three scores and the Indians’ defense came up with three interceptions en route to a 47-12 handling of Cedar Bluff on the Creekbank
Ohatchee (10-0), ranked second at the end of the regular season, moves on to next week’s second-round game at home against Red Bay, which outlasted Winston County 16-14 in overtime.
The Indians' victory came a day short of a year after their 37-14 loss at Sylvania in the first round of the 3A playoffs in 2017. Reclassification shipped the Indians down to 2A this year, and they’re looking for a run more like their 3A semifinal run of 2016.
“We made that a point this week that everybody in the playoffs is there because they’ve won enough games to be there,” Ohatchee coach Scott Martin said. “Seeding, that’s important, but the bottom line is you go out and don’t play very well, you get beat.”
No chance of that Friday. Ohatchee took control with turnovers and big plays to lead 33-6 at halftime.
Larry Noah’s first-quarter interception at the Cedar Bluff 29 set up Alward’s 6-yard TD run for a 13-0 Indians lead. Alward’s 21-yard run on fourth down and eight kept the drive alive.
Thomas’ 58-yard TD run made it 20-0 at 7:40 of the first quarter. Alward broke an 80-yard TD run after Noah Fuller’s end-zone interception to make it 26-0 at 5:35 of the second.
Eli Ennis’ interception gave Ohatchee the ball at Cedar Bluff’s 47 to set up Thomas’ 20-yard touchdown run for a 33-0 Ohatchee lead at 2:14.
Before the run of turnovers and big plays, Ohatchee took advantage of a short punt to drive 47 yards on eight plays for Thomas’ 2-yard run for the game’s first score, which came at 6:23 of the first quarter.
“It’s so fun,” Alward said. “Just play after play, and we kept getting interceptions, and we were rolling, rolling, rolling.”
Cedar Bluff got on the board on the half’s final play, Lucas Hampton’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Trey Wilson.
Ohatchee ran up 268 total yards in the first half. Thomas rushed for 131, and Alward gobbled up 124.
The Indians got a 9-yard touchdown run from Cam McCombs in the second half, capping off his 64-yard night. Todd Dover added a 2-yard touchdown run and intercepted a tipped conversion pass, after Hampton scored on a 4-yard run.
“It feels amazing,” Thomas said. “It’s a momentum swing, great home crowd, and they gave us a lot of energy, so it was great making those big plays.”
Martin most liked how his team handled the cold and a field wet from rain. The Indians had no turnovers.
“Our kids are really focused,” Martin said. “They’re pretty mature, but they’ve got another goal in sight, and it’s on to week two.”