The Fightin' Irish of Aquinas used a strong running game to forge a three-touchdown lead, then withstood a late rally to post their third consecutive win, a 29-13 homecoming victory over Athens Christian on Friday night.
Patrick Nordmann and Eric Stallings both rushed for more than 100 yards for Aquinas, leading Irish head coach Jim Connor to praise his offensive line and fullback John Taylor for consistently opening holes.
Connor attributed the victory to having "smart kids who believe in the system and play hard."
Nordmann was the workhorse for the Irish, carrying 18 times for 94 yards in the opening half. For the game, the 5-foot-2, 125-pound sophomore had 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He also returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for an apparent score; it was called back on a holding penalty.
Stallings turned in stellar performance, rushing for 107 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run that put the Irish up 21-0 early in the third quarter.
The Irish needed only seven seconds in the game to get on the scoreboard. The Eagles mishandled Adam Ribock's opening kickoff at the 10 and fumbled it into their own end zone, where Pat Milnes recovered it for a touchdown.
Before the game, Athens Christian coach Van Beacham said, "we've got to stop making turnovers to stay in this."
Two lost fumbles and an interception in the opening quarter confirmed the coach's concerns.
The Eagles' success passing the ball in the second half kept them in the game. Nick Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes to Daniel Battinelli, who caught nine passes for 139 yards.
Connor singled out Irish defensive back Lee Malchow and middle linebacker Ben Taylor as keys to success for the Irish on defense.
Aquinas takes a 3-1 record into its first Region 7-A game of the season, at Twiggs County, on Friday. Athens Christian falls to 1-3.
AQUINAS 29, ATHENS CHRISTIAN 13
First Downs 1414
Passing Yards 15939
Athens Christian 0076-13
First Quarter A-Pat Milnes fumble recovery (Adam Ribock kick) 11:53
Second Quarter A-Patrick Nordmann 2 run (Ribock kick) 11:17
Third Quarter A-Eric Stallings 67 run (Ribock kick) 10:56
AC-Daniel Battinelli 26 pass from Nick Dalton (Gulli Gunnarsson kick) 5:16
A-Nordmann 5 run (John Douglas pass from Stallings) 1:16
Fourth Quarter AC-Battinelli 3 pass from Dalton (kick fail)
RUSHING-Aquinas: Stallings 11-107, Nordmann 29-111. Athens Christian: John West 14-32. PASSING-Aquinas: Stallings 3-7-0-39. Athens Christain: Dalton 11-27 160 2. RECEIVING-Athens Christian: Daniel Battinelli 9-139. Records: 3-1. Next: Aquinas at Twiggs, Friday, 7:30 p.m.