There was a hint of deceit in the final score of the Owen Warhorse season opener on Aug. 23.
While the 42-24 win on E.L. Justus Field in East Flat Rock over East Henderson conveyed a message of outright dominance, there was nothing overpowering about the performance of Nathan Padgett's team heading into halftime.
"We're our own worst enemy right now," the fifth-year head coach said as he ran off the field down 10-0 to the Eagles.
Neither team put a dent in the scoreboard through the first quarter and the first points of the contest came courtesy of a safety after Owen junior quarterback Caleb Scott was called for intentional grounding in his own end zone. The Eagles added a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to the lead before the end of the second quarter.
"We hurt ourselves a lot in the first half," Padgett said in an on-field interview after the game. "We didn't execute the way we wanted to, and to East Henderson's credit, they executed more plays than we did that half."
The Warhorses collected themselves during halftime, he said.
"We didn't panic," Padgett said. "We told them everything was fine, we were only down 10-0, so we needed to go out there and execute our game plan in the second half."
Junior Dequan Boyce, who transferred to Owen from McDowell earlier in the week, responded by returning the opening kickoff of the second half to around midfield. Senior Blake Roberts scored the first of his three touchdowns on the ensuing possession. Roberts finished the game with 181 yards rushing.
Scott led the ground attack for Owen with 205 yards on 18 carries. Boyce, who finished the game with 111 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, was the third Warhorse to eclipse the 100-yard mark against the Eagles.
Offensive coordinator Anthony Lee's unit erupted for 28 points in the third quarter and added 14 to the tally in the final frame.
Clearing the way for the Owen offense was the line, led by seniors Saevion Gibbs and Jaylin Davidson. The unit dominated the East Henderson defense most of the night.
"I got to give a lot of credit to those guys," Padgett said. "They started strong and finished even stronger."
The victory will help set the tone for the rest of the season, according to the coach.
"Our first goal this year was to win the opener," Padgett said. "We were able to come out here and do it, so I want these guys to enjoy it right now because we have a lot of work ahead of us."
The Warhorses do not play a game in week two of the season. They host rival Reynolds, which fell 35-23 to East Forsyth in its season opener, on Friday, Sept. 6.
"The guys know that Reynolds is always a tough opponent," Padgett said of the Rockets, who have beat Owen in each of their last five contests. "But this win tonight shows them just what they can accomplish when they work together and execute the game plan."