At the cost of losing star quarterback Erick Marinelli to graduation last season, Ballard Memorial has simply not been able to find new footing this season.
And even with a few bright first quarter moments, a scorching hot Caldwell County squad came into Barlow on Friday night in week six and exposed the re-tooled Bombers early and often in a 57-16 triumph to move to 5-1 on the season in their best start in two years.
The Tigers took care of business in their third straight win since their lone loss to Hopkinsville, and used their convincing District 2A opener as preparation for next week's showdown with the Class 2A State Runner up Mayfield Cardinals.
De'Eric Hollowell finished with three touchdowns in the first half on four carries (55 yards), Tiger play-caller Russ Beshear finished 8-for-10 in the air with one uncharacteristic interception in the first half, and Barren Wells had two TD catches in the first half (66 yards combined).
Meanwhile, Ballard Memorial (0-5) had not been able to score more than one touchdown in any of their first four games, all losses, but they did end that streak here, and will see a winless Fulton City next week with a chance at their first win.
Caldwell County sent off their third straight running-clock as well as four of their five wins have been running clock situations.
The Tigers forced a quick three-and-out to start then converted on a safety for a quick 2-0 start in the first two minutes.
Bomber quarterback Parker Rathman was running for his life in the pocket early with no pass completions and no positive passing yardage.
Ben Holt, Elijah Shaheen, Devin Kilgore, Travion Samuel and the rest of the Tiger defense picked up where they left off.
Hollowell came up with the first score of the game on a short scoot to the left side for his 10th rushing score of the season to put the Tigers up 9-0 with four minutes gone by in the contest.
Then, Wells followed with a score of his own a minute later on a 50-yard punt return for a 16-0 Tiger start, but no one expected the shocking development that followed.
Ballard's Trenton Howard broke free and went 94-yards, untouched, for a shocking Bomber touchdown to slice the deficit to 16-8 midway through the first quarter, and Beshear threw an interception on the next Caldwell drive; but those two mishaps woke the Tigers up the rest of the way and the Bombers wouldn't score again.
Hollowell walked 31 yards untouched for his second score to put the Tigers up 23-8 after the first quarter.
Wells had his second score 25-yards to the right side early in the second frame for a 30-8 edge and Tate VanHooser got himself on the board with 4:29 remaining in the first half to take full command and wipe off the cobwebs at 37-8.
The Tigers took over at their own 10-yard line after a partial block on a Bomber punt, and Hollowell rang up his third TD of the night to take a 43-8 lead into the locker room.
Caldwell County wrapped up matters with a swift and quick second half display.
In just 21 seconds Wells came through to ignite the running clock on the far right side of the pylon fresh off of the third quarter kickoff for a 50-8 lead.
Tiger head coach Waynee McGowan was able to send in the reserves midway through the third quarter (including Jack Stevens at quarterback in the place of Beshear, and on a fourth down at the goal-line, Samuel was the beneficiary of the Tigers final one-yard touchdown to send the Tigers up 57-8 early in the fourth quarter with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Samuel would get five carries in the game, seeing significant second half action as well.
Rathman would give the Bombers reason to cheer, as he came away with the final touchdown of the game on a 52-yard run with 4:02 remaining in the game to give Ballard their first multi-touchdown game of the season and slice the final score to 57-14.
With just eight upperclassmen and seven available reserves, the Bombers were outnumbered and outmatched, but they didn't let that define them, as Caldwell County had to adjust themselves on the Bombers Homecoming night.
The two teams met for the first time since the 2014 KHSAA Class 2A Playoffs second round in a 44-6 Caldwell County win when now-Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar threw for over 350 yards for the Tigers.
The Tigers and Bombers also met in this decade in 2011, another Caldwell County win.
The Tigers now turn their attention to Mayfield, where a Class 2A showdown of two one-loss teams awaits in Princeton next Friday night at 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.