SAN BERNARDINO — Aquinas appeared set on sending a message in Friday’s game that the Falcons were ready to roll to another Ironwood League championship. The Falcons raced to a 27-0 advantage over Village Christian with 7:24 remaining in the first half.
Village Christian had a reply to Aquinas’s early dominance. The visiting Crusaders had no intention of allowing things to be easy for Aquinas. Village Christian played Aquinas on an even basis for the remainder of the game.
When the final whistle blew, Aquinas (2-4, 1-0) earned a 45-26 victory over Village Christian, which finished second in the Ironwood League during the 2022 season.
“The first league game always means a little more,” said Aquinas coach Jordan Brusig. “In each game, we have had glimpses of what our team is capable of.”
The Aquinas defense did not allow Village Christian (4-2, 0-1) to get a first down in the Crusaders’ first six possessions. Aquinas recovered a fumble at the Village Christian 18-yard line.
Quarterback Malachi Jones took immediate advantage, running for an 18-yard touchdown 2:18 into the game. Jones connected with Isaiah Qoroya on a 6-yard touchdown pass. Aquinas took a 14-0 lead when Jones completed the 2-point conversion pass to Kymani Badelle with 2:52 remaining in the opening quarter.
Jones tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Reyes in the fourth quarter. He also ran for a 23-yard touchdown. Jones gained 116 yards on 10 carries.
With the way the Falcons’ defense was playing, it looked like a short and easy evening for Aquinas.
“They (Village Christian) had some trick plays but we had practiced against those plays,” Sione Sakava said. “I had a good junior season, but this is my best season yet.”
Sakava had four sacks and other tackles for lost yardage. He spent a lot of time in the Crusaders’ offensive backfield.
“Sakava really showed up tonight and did a great job,” Brusig said. Aquinas had trouble they couldn’t handle well. That would be their own mistakes, kind of an evil twin to their good team.
Village Christian recovered a bad snap in the end zone for six points, and added another six in the final minute. Village Christian quarterback Chase Everett found Lucas Lehman with a 45-yard pass, and Everett threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Howard with 16 seconds remaining in the first half.
After a shaky start, Everett was able to move the ball successfully. Lehman played well, catching three scoring passes with 6 receptions for 93 yards.
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