Aurora football's defense pounds Kent

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by COLIN HARRIS | REPORTER Hudson -- In a battle of opposing offensive strengths, it was defense that came out with the victory on Nov. 9. Aurora turned two second-half turnovers into touchdowns as the Greenmen defeated Kent Roosevelt 27-13 in the Division II regional semifinals at the new Hudson Memorial Stadium. As a result, Aurora will face Chardon in the Division II, Region 5 regional final. The game will be played at Twinsburg Tiger Stadium Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. "This game was all about defense," said Greenmen head coach Bob Mihalik after the contest. "All week, we heard about Roosevelt's offense and [Roosevelt senior quarterback] Tra Chapman, so I think our guys came into this game with a chip on their shoulders." After a hard-fought first half that resulted in draw at 13, AHS senior linebacker Zach Smierciak delivered a dagger into the hearts of the Rough Riders. Early in the third quarter, Roosevelt took over after an Aurora punt at the Greenmen 35-yard line. After a short pass to senior receiver Trei Thomas, Chapman was baited by Smierciak into a pass that hit the senior linebacker right between the numbers. Smierciak reacted quickly, taking the ball 75 yards for a Greenmen touchdown. "I just tried to read Tra's eyes on that pass and then I just cut back and ran my heart out," Smierciak said. "My lead blocking really helped me out on that return." Roosevelt had its best chance to get back in the game late in the fourth quarter after forcing an Aurora punt with 4:51 remaining. The Rough Roders marched the ball down to Aurora's 37, led by an 18-yard pitch and catch from Chapman to senior Zach Janus. After a short pass to Thomas and a pair of incompletions, Chapman found himself with fourth and 6 at the Greenmen 34 with 3:16 left. Chapman took the shotgun snap and scrambeled toward the Roosevelt sideline before turning upfield for what would have been a first down. But Aurora senior Frank Sivillo put his helmet on the ball and jarred it loose. Senior teammate Jake McVay recovered the ball at Aurora's 23 to give his team possession and stall another promising Roosevelt drive. "I was just in the right place at the right time," McVay said. "I actually thought I might have been out of bounds on the recovery because it was so close to the line, but the refs ruled me in." Whatever hope Roosevelt had for a come-from-behind victory was crushed on the next play as senior Zach Quinn took the first handoff 77 yards for a touchdown that put Aurora up 27-13. Aurora ran the ball efficiently all evening, with 42 carries for 304 yards. Quinn was the leading ball carrier, toting 17 times for 146 yards and a touchdown. McVay had the evening's first touchdown, a 51-yard run on Aurora's third play of the game. He later hauled in a pass from quarterback George Bollas for a 31-yard tally. Bollas gained 89 yards on 11 carries and McVay picked up 79 yards on 15 carries. Roosevelt head coach John Nemec said he was proud of his team's effort in the first half, but costly mistakes were the difference in the loss. "We did a great job hanging with a physical, well-coached Aurora team in the first half," Nemec said of the halftime tie. "But we made a couple of mistakes in the second half that really cost us. We let things get away from us." Chapman finished a stellar two-year career at Roosevelt with a 19-of-42 passing performance for 243 yards and one touchdown -- a 16-yard second quarter strike to Thomas. The University of Pittsburgh-bound Chapman also rushed 19 times for 66 yards. Roosevelt senior kicker Jose Rocha knocked in 43- and 34-yard field goals during the 13-point second quarter effort. E-mail: charris@recorpdub.com Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4195

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