The high-scoring Aquinas offense was waiting for something big, and Ruben Garnett delivered.
Slowed down at the start by a Georgia Military College team that ate up the clock but didn’t score, the Irish finally broke out in the second quarter with Garnett’s 88-yard run. That ignited the third-ranked Irish’s 31-0 Friday night against the Bulldogs.
“We came out kind of flat,” said Garnett, who rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries. “I think the run gave us some life and got us going.”
Earlier, the Bulldogs’ offense used a ground-based attack to churn out drives that lasted five and six-plus minutes to keep it close, at least for a while. With 5:25 to go in the second quarter, Aquinas (9-0 overall, 6-0 Region 7-A) led just 3-0 on a 43-yard Justin Thompson field goal.
But the Irish, who had scored at least 42 points in all but two games this season going into Friday, woke up on Garnett’s sprint and then got the ball back to add another touchdown for a 17-0 halftime edge. Quarterback Liam Welch threw to Shalom Alvarez for the short score with less than eight seconds remaining in the second quarter. Welch and Aquinas gained 83 yards in about 80 seconds on the touchdown drive.
Aquinas kept the game a shutout from there, holding the Bulldogs to 158 rushing yards and zero passing yards.
The Irish expanded their lead by putting up two more touchdowns in the second half, with Garnett scoring again in the third and Welch finding Chris Lambert, who had 63 receiving yards on three catches, on a fourth-quarter strike.
With Friday’s win, Aquinas, off to the best start in program history, matched the best single-season win total set by the 2011 team. But the 2013 version still has First Presbyterian next as the Irish look to conclude the regular season without a loss.
“We can’t afford to come out and start slow like we did (Friday) next week,” Aquinas coach James Leonard said. “But 9 and 0 though, you got to be happy with that.”