DAVID CITY — Aquinas turned the ball over on its first possession of the game and its last, but the Monarchs did most everything in between very efficiently.
The Class C-2 No. 4 Monarchs used a dominating run game and a stifling defense to earn a 35-0 victory over Centennial on Friday.
"We were able to drive, we never punted all night and we played well against a well-coached, solid football team," said Aquinas coach Ron Mimick. "Our halfbacks, which were a weakness early in the year, are really starting to play well. Our line is getting better and they're really young.
"We are becoming better offensively, and that's usually what takes time, especially in our offense with a lot of moving parts."
The offense rolled up 419 yards on the ground , averaging 6.5 yards a carry on 65 rushes. The interception on the first possessions was one of just two passes attempted.
The defense limited Centennial to just eight first downs and 171 total yards. In the second half, the Broncos had seven running plays for minus-32 yards, including two snaps over the quarterbacks' heads.
"The defense really played well. We did a nice job of keeping them in front of us and running to the ball," Mimick said. "They had a little success running at first, but then Tony (defensive coordinator Smith) got them figured out."
Two big plays were a blocked punt by Rylan Chromy midway through the second quarter, which Caleb Thege covered in the end zone for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery by Nolan Schultz after Centennial drove to the Aquinas 10-yard line in the third period.
"I saw an open hole in the front line and they had three guys in the back," Chromy said of his block. "I told Konnor (Adamy) to hit him in the right shoulder and I got him in the left and went right through him, threw my hands up and blocked the punt. That's all there was to it."
You have free articles remaining.
Aquinas drove 90 yards in 13 plays, capped by Kyle Napier's 27-yard run.
"The defense came in and I pulled the ball really late," Napier said. "I got outside and had one guy to beat. My eyes got real big when I saw that."
Centennial's Will Saunders picked off an Aquinas pass to open the game before Ben Shonka pounced on a Bronco fumble.
The Monarchs pounded the ball 15 times on its 63-yard scoring drive. Napier capped the march with a 1-yard sneak on fourth down.
After Chromy's punt block, Braden Smith set up the next score with an interception. Aquinas marched 73 yards in seven plays, with Zach Pandorf taking it in from the 1-yard line for the score.
Keegan Lavicky got the Monarchs' other score on a 1-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter.
"Defensively, we weren't quite as consistent," said Centennial coach Evan Klanecky. "That's Aquinas 101 with so many different looks and why they have had a lot of success.
"We have a young team and we know that, but we had the opportunity to beat three top-10 rated teams and, I'm tired of saying this — we're close."
Centennial also fell to No. 5 Sutton and No. 8 Battle Creek.