Ruben Garnett saw his grandmother. The flag-waving fans were in sight, too.
So Garnett figured it was time to start a celebration.
The Aquinas junior scored a 5-yard touchdown run on his 29th rushing attempt of the game, giving the Irish a 19-16 overtime victory against George Walton Academy on Friday night at Aquinas.
George Walton had beaten Aquinas in the first round of the 2012 Class A private state playoffs after the Irish won the regular-season meeting in overtime. This year, the Irish took another overtime win.
On the last play Friday night, Garnett got the snap and didn’t have to wait for room to run, charging forward and pointing to his grandmother after he scored. Fans and the rest of the Aquinas team then stormed the field.
“I saw grass and light, so I just went,” said Garnett, who rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns. “The line did a great job.”
Aquinas (2-0) forced overtime on a pair of fourth-quarter Justin Thompson field goals, the last traveling 22 yards with 90 seconds to play. The Irish got the opportunity when the Bulldogs, once up 13-7, lost a fumble.
George Walton, whose star player Stanley Williams was hampered by an injury, had benefited from an Aquinas fumble in the first half, getting its own field goal to go up 10-7 at the break.
But Williams, who conquered Aquinas with his 224 rushing yards in the 2012 playoff meeting, was out for most of the second half and overtime.
When he did get a rare attempt, he wasn’t as dangerous and strong on his cuts. He had 101 yards on the ground, picking up zero yards on three carries after the second quarter.
Dimetrios Mason filled in and picked up 92 yards, but the Aquinas defense held tough when it was pushed close to its end zone. Despite running for 244 yards, the Bulldogs scored just six points after the first quarter going into overtime, where they got a field goal.
“We did give up big plays, but our guys never gave up,” Irish coach James Leonard said.