Brendan Douglas runs the ball, catches passes, plays defense and even punts for Aquinas.
But it’s the little things he does that don’t show up in the box score that make him a special player.
Take Friday night’s game against Hancock Central, a 31-6 win by the Irish. Late in the second quarter, a snap sailed over Douglas’ head as he was in punt formation and went toward the goal line. Many players would have fallen on the ball in the end zone or let the opposing team recover.
Not Douglas. With Hancock Central defenders surrounding him, he grabbed the ball with one hand, pivoted and got off a booming punt that carried more than 50 yards on the fly.
Instead of surrendering a cheap touchdown, No. 4 Aquinas held Hancock Central and took a 7-0 lead into halftime.
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should pick it up and run around,” Douglas said. “I didn’t know if I should pick it up and go in the end zone for a safety. I just picked it up and turned around and kicked it as far as I could. I don’t know how I did that.”
The play earned Douglas an ovation from the Aquinas crowd, but it wasn’t surprising to his coach.
“That’s typical for him. I’m surprised he didn’t kick it left-footed,” coach Matt LeZotte said. “He makes plays like that all the time. He does it in practice and he does it in games. … It was a heck of a play.”
LeZotte reprimanded his team at halftime, and the Irish responded with two solid quarters. Douglas led the way, rushing for 100 of his 142 yards after the break and finishing with three touchdowns.
The victory sets up a showdown between Aquinas (5-0, 2-0 Region 7-A) and its region nemesis, Lincoln County, on Thursday night.
Aquinas has lost 31 in a row to Lincoln County, dating to 1973, and the Red Devils lead the overall series 31-2-1.
Douglas admitted he and his teammates might have been looking ahead to the showdown.
“I guess we were. I don’t know,” he said. “The coaches have been telling us all week to take it one week at a time. Lincoln will get here when they get here. I guess we were. That’s on us. We can’t do that anymore.”
LeZotte agreed, and praised Hancock Central (3-2, 1-1 region) for its improved play.
“I’m looking forward to getting this week started,” he said. “Our guys needed a game like this. A little perseverance in the second half and have to work for it. Our guys needed that.”