By JOHN LIKANJE
FAIRPORT, N.Y. – The Aquinas varsity football team did not overreact from a season-opening loss to McQuaid, bouncing back with a 38-20 victory over Rush-Henrietta last weekend. Derek Annechino’s squad kept up the momentum with a 34-16 win at Fairport, Friday night.
“I’m very happy with the performance for the most part tonight, but we have a lot of things we need to clean up,” Annechino said. “You’re not going to give up the penalty yardage that we gave up tonight and be successful in the playoffs.”Aquinas runs past Fairport to win second straight
Leading 7-3 with 8:56 remaining in the first half, senior running back Brian Magee broke out for a 20-yard run as part of a five-play, 63-yard drive. Sophomore Will Benjamin corralled a 29-yard catch from quarterback Tyler Szalkowski. Szalkowski bounced off a defender and found paydirt to give the L’il Irish a 14-3 advantage.
Benjamin compiled 92 of his 138 rushing yards through the first 24 minutes of game action. The sophomore had three carries of six or more yards, including a 67-yard run in the first quarter to set himself up for a touchdown.
“He’s the next great tailback to come out of Aquinas,” Annechino said about Benjamin, who added two rushing touchdowns to bring his season total up to six. “He’s a kid that, when we get him the ball, he can go at any time. He’s explosive.”
Szalkowski completed 9-of-15 passes for 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns – one on the ground and another through the air. The junior quarterback has totaled 693 passing yards this season. Despite only having three receptions, Ulysees Russell racked up 102 yards and caught a 15-yard spiral from Szalkowski in the end zone. The junior wide receiver has 361 receiving yards in three games.
“They’re our money men with the ball,” Annechino said about Russell and Szalkowski. “If we’re going to be successful, we need to get those guys the football in space and let them do their thing. Tyler’s well beyond his years for a quarterback.”
Magee scrambled for 10 of his 18 carries in the first half and ran for 74 yards.
“I’m so glad he came back to play football this year,” Annechino said about his senior running back. “He’s doing a fantastic job for us. He’s getting us those tough yards when we need him. He’s very powerful for a little guy.”
Patrick Fenton and Frank Jin led the defense with nine tackles apiece.
“Defensively, we definitely got a little bit better,” Annechino said.
After giving up a field goal in the second quarter, the L’il Irish scored 24 unanswered points and on six of their 11 drives throughout the game.
For Fairport, senior quarterback Klay Stuver went 8-of-20 for 108 passing yards and carried 22 times for 42 more. Wide receiver John Tarmino caught five passes for 52 yards. Sophomores Braden Consaul and Joe Giggie scored a touchdown apiece in the fourth quarter.
— John Mitchell Likanje Junior (@jml5798) September 21, 2019
Aquinas will play their third road game in four weeks next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Monroe. Fairport will host Hilton Friday at 7 p.m.