If Aquinas needed a big play, George Welch was there to make it happen.
The senior do-everything athlete did it all for the Irish on Friday night, leading Aquinas to a 38-12 victory over Laney on the 50th anniversary of the first meeting between the two Richmond County programs.
Welch recorded 10 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns and added a key interception late in the game. His connection with quarterback John Paul accounted for all but 33 of Paul’s passing yards as the Irish pulled away with 28 second-half points.
“George had a fantastic night,” Aquinas coach James Leonard said. “It was a breakout performance. We knew he could do it. The offense clicked tonight and that was a driving force for us this week in practice.”
In a game billed as a physical battle, passing and skill players took the spotlight. Laney’s Mario Sumpter went 11 for 15 for 170 yards and two touchdowns while adding 42 rushing yards, while Paul went 15 for 20 for 208 yards and 48 rushing yards.
The two teams traded scores early in the game with Aquinas (1-1) holding a 10-6 halftime advantage after a 50-yard touchdown pass from Paul to Welch in the second quarter.
Joseph Douglas picked up a four-yard touchdown run early in the third to extend the lead before Sumpter hit Donald Henley on a 50-yard touchdown strike to keep Laney (0-2) within striking distance at 17-12.
The Irish took advantage of Douglas’ physical running ability with hard rushes throughout the fourth quarter. They scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth to pull away, including a 27-yard pass from Paul to Welch and 39-yard run by Ferris Lowery.
Aquinas picked up its second win in the series after its first came last year in thrilling fashion. Laney holds the all-time mark at 5-2.
At halftime, the city of Augusta commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first meeting between the two teams.
The matchup in 1967 marked the first integrated high school football game in Richmond County.
Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis and Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis presented each school with a proclamation honoring the first game and those who participated. Several players joined the two on the field for photos.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216