We almost had another one…
Another one meaning a last second score to tie or win the game. The Aurora Greenmen came up 20 yards short, as their final drive was stopped on downs at the Toledo Central Catholic 20 yard line, giving the Irish a hard fought 20-13 win over Aurora in the Division II state semi-final game at Huron Memorial Field.
Toledo Central Catholic will advance to the state championship game next Friday night at 7p.m at Massillon’s Paul Brown Stadium where they will be taking on defending state champion Trotwood-Madison.
But did Aurora ever make them work for it
Coming into the game, Aurora was considered to be the underdog, with Toledo Central Catholic’s massive offensive and defensive lines dictating play. Led by John Perrin (300 pounds), Jeff Dew (285 pounds), and University of Louisville recruit Keith Towbridge (255 pounds) the Irish figured to pretty much dominate the line of scrimmage.
Things didn’t really go according to plan
After the teams traded punts on their first possessions, It was Aurora that struck first. Quarterback George Bollas, coming off a monster game against Chardon last week, darted down the right sideline 54 yards to the Irish 10 yard line. On third and goal from the 12, Bollas found tight end Zach Smiercak on a throwback screen that capped off a 6 play 72 yard drive and put the Greenmen on top 7-0.
The lead wouldn’t last long. Toledo Central Catholic finally got their high powered offense moving, driving 67 yards in 12 plays with running back Amir Edwards taking it in from 2 yards out to tie the score at 7. The teams battled back and forth, with both teams defenses stopping the other’s offense. Finally, just before the half, Aurora recovered an Irish fumble at the Irish 30 yard line, but on the first play from scrimmage, Aurora fumbled, Toledo Central Catholic recovered, and the game into halftime tied at 7.
Aurora would strike first in the second half. Starting from their own 38 yard line, with the 25mph wind at their backs, Aurora opened up its offense. Bollas hit Jake McVay on a deep post pattern for 45 yards down to the Irish 17 yard line. Bollas would then plunge it in on a quarterback sneak from a yard out giving the Greenmen a 13-7 lead heading into the final quarter.
After an exchange of punts, the Irish started from their own 40 yard line. On a second down play, quarterback DeShone Kizer found Towbridge on a go route for 45 yards to the Aurora five yard line. Two plays later, Edwards took it in from a yard out, giving the Irish a 14-13 lead. The game seemed to be slipping away from the Greenmen when they were stopped on downs at their own 32 yard line with 3:44 to play. Things went from bad to worse, when on the second play of the Irish drive, Edwards scored on a 19 yard run, bouncing off of five would-be Aurora tacklers. The extra point, however, was missed, and Toledo Central Catholic held a 20-13 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
Aurora would mount one final drive
Starting at their own 15 yard line, Aurora would begin their march to tie the game. Bollas found Smiercak again on a screen pass that picked up a first down on a 3rd and 20 play. Bollas would run for 15 yards to the Irish 37 yard line on another third down. After another Bollas scramble, the Greenmen would have a first down at the Irish twenty yard line with just over a minute to play. On third down, Bollas rolled to his right and threw a pass that was just out of the reach of McVay in the endzone. A fourth down sack ended Aurora’s dreams of a state final, and Irish fans could finally breathe easy.
“It’s as difficult a game as we have had all year. Those kids from Aurora really played hard, and played their hearts out”…..Irish coach Greg Dempsey
While it didn’t have the same about of drama as the Mentor win over St. Ignatius, or the Mentor win over St. Edward two weeks ago, this was still edge of your seat stuff, especially on Aurora’s final drive.
Though vastly outsized, the Greenmen played with great heart, and gave the heavily favored Toledo Central Catholic Irish all they could handle.
Congratulations to coach Bob Mihalik and all of the players and coaches at Aurora. It was one great season you put together.