Offense lead Aquinas past East Laurens

Aquinas 52, East Laurens 14



Brendan Douglas is in Athens, Ga., preparing for his first season with the University of Georgia. Matt LeZotte is coaching down at Wayne County. And Aquinas? The Irish are doing just fine.

Any concerns over the loss of all-state running back/linebacker Douglas and the coach who led the program to back-to-back playoff appearances disappeared somewhere in the first quarter Friday night.

Liam Welch tossed two of his three touchdown passes to Daniel Lindsey before halftime and the Irish rolled to a 52-14 season-opening victory over East Laurens.

“Everything clicked. The ball bounced our way a couple of times,” said James Leonard, who became just the second Aquinas coach to win in his debut. “Everybody did their job and played together.”

Aquinas was almost unstoppable on offense, scoring touchdowns on seven of its first eight drives. The one time the Irish didn’t cross the goal line, Justin Thompson punched in a 24-yard field goal.

Welch looked sharp from the start, completing nine of 11 pass attempts to six different receivers for 91 yards. Ruben Garnett, who ran a few plays out of the Wildcat formation, gained 109 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown, while John Morris added 68 yards on four rushes with a touchdown.

“We’ve got a whole bunch of weapons,” said Lindsey, who also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. “This is probably the best offense we had the past three years.”

Aquinas took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards in seven plays. Welch dumped a 9-yard pass to Lindsey for the opening score. Less than a minute later, on East Laurens’ third play from scrimmage, linebacker Chris Lambert scooped up a fumble and rumbled 46 yards down the right sideline, staking the Irish to an early 14-0 lead.

The Falcons’ fortunes didn’t get much better. A Class AA team that advanced to the 2012 playoffs, East Laurens lost fumbles on two of its first three drives and managed just 32 yards of total offense in the first half.

East Laurens finally scored three minutes into the second half when Ben Jackson scored on a 15-yard run one play after Sal Heart, who led the Falcons with 87 yards on four carries, broke off a 62-yard run. Aquinas led 45-6 and had a running clock for the second half.


PLAY OF THE GAME: Chris Lambert scooped up a fumble and dashed 46 yards for a touchdown to stake the Irish to a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest.

STAR OF THE GAME: Aquinas had no shortage of key players, but Ruben Garnett looked good in the Wildcat formation and rushed 15 times for 109 yards and a touchdown.

WHY AQUINAS WON: The offense couldn’t be contained, scoring touchdowns on seven of its first eight drives. They never punted.

WHY EAST LAURENS LOST: The Warriors lost a pair of early fumbles and the game soon unraveled.

NEXT: Aquinas is off next week and will play host to George Walton on Sept. 6.


East Laurens 0 0 6 8 – 14
Aquinas 24 21 7 0 – 52

First Quarter
A–Daniel Lindsey 9 pass from Liam Welch (Justin Thompson kick), 9:06
A–Chris Lambert 46 fumble return (Thompson kick), 8:03
A–Thompson 24 FG, 3:00
A–John Morris 7 pass from Welch (Thompson kick), 1:09

Second Quarter
A–Lindsey 2 fumble return (Thompson kick), 10:16
A–Lindsey 11 pass from Welch (Thompson kick), 7:49
A–Garnett 18 run (Thompson kick), 1:14

Third Quarter
E–Ben Jackson 15 run (run failed), 9:08
A–John Morris 50 run (Thompson kick), 1:40

Fourth Quarter
E–Sa’Monte Taylor 15 run (Jackson run), 6:40

First Downs515
Passing Yards9111


RUSHING–East Laurens: Ben Jackson 7-42, Sal Heart 4-87, Ladarius Wells 5-1, Terrell Robinson 3-5, Sa’Monte Taylor 3-68, Keenan Baker 2-(-10), Jaquavious Cannon 1-(-5). Aquinas: Ruben Garnett 15-109, John Morris 4-68, Daniel Lindsey 2-24, Chris Gates 3-8, Connor Sweeney 1-10, Liam Welch 1-8.

PASSING–East Laurens: Keenan Baker 1-4-0 9. Aquinas: Liam Welch 9-11-0 91, Sweeney 1-1-0 20.

RECEIVING–East Laurens: Wells 1-9. Aquinas: Lindsey 4-38, Antonio Clark 1-9, Morris 1-7, Shalom Alvarez 1-8, Justin Gibbs 1-9, Chris Lambert 1-20, Burke Agee 1-20.