Senior David Mysona figures his Aquinas team has been a part of just as many homecoming games as a visiting squad as it has at its own stadium because other schools perceive games against the Irish as easy victories.
"We take that personally," Mysona said.
On Friday night, the Irish showed how far they have come this season, dispatching Washington-Wilkes, 28-12. It was the Irish's first victory over Washington-Wilkes since 1980.
"It's really exciting because it all came down to this, do or die," said Mysona, who ran for a team-high 63 yards and thought at the time that the Irish had made the playoffs.
It would not be determined until today if Aquinas or Warren County would get the region's fourth and final seed in the state playoffs.
First-year Aquinas head coach Matt LeZotte said that this win was unique because of the way the Irish (5-5, 2-3 Region 7-A) not only won, but completely outplayed the Tigers (5-5, 2-3 Region 7-A).
"Our guys played with a different motivation. We dominated the game," LeZotte said. "This could've been another mediocre, 4-6 team."
The Tigers opened the scoring in the second quarter with a 7-yard run from Deon Arnold, one of two touchdowns for the junior.
That lead appeared as if it would hold up through halftime, but the Irish had other ideas.
After Aquinas recovered a fumble on Washington-Wilkes' side of the field with under a minute to go in the half, LeZotte called a double-pass play. It worked to perfection, as senior Garrett Pippin found freshman Brendan Douglas on a 28-yard touchdown reception. The scoring play put Aquinas up for good at 7-6.
"I've never seen our crowd get that crazy," Douglas said of the reaction to the touchdown.
AQUINAS 28, WASH.-WILKES 12
PLAY OF THE GAME: Aquinas pulled from its bag of tricks just before halftime, as Brendan Douglas caught a 28-yard touchdown from Garrett Pippin on a double pass play to give the Irish a one-point lead.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Douglas, a freshman, finished with 75 total yards from scrimmage. More importantly for his Irish team, he scored two touchdowns, including a 6-yard plunge in the second quarter.
WHY WASHINGTON-WILKES LOST: The Tigers moved the ball well, managing 267 yards on the ground while piling up 15 first downs. However, they were unable to turn lengthy drives into touchdowns, and 122 penalty yards stifled the offensive output.
WHY AQUINAS WON: The Irish stole the momentum with their touchdown right before halftime, and they kept it the rest of the way. Aquinas amassed fewer total yards than Washington-Wilkes, but the Irish were able to finish off their drives.
NEXT: State playoff teams to be determined today.