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Aurora grounds and pounds Twinsburg football

by Michael Leonard Sports Editor Published: September 14, 2016 12:00 AM
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Twinsburg -- Aurora and Twinsburg have played some instant classics when the two backyard rivals have hooked up over the years.

On Sept. 9 at Tiger Stadium, Aurora had too much firepower for its neighbors to the west to handle.

The Greenmen used defense, good field position and their ground game to score a 38-15 win over the Tigers.

Aurora improved to 2-1 on the season, while Twinsburg dropped to 0-3.

The most telling statistic from this contest: Aurora rushed 46 times for 317 yards, compared to 48 yards on 23 rushes for the Tigers.

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Aurora coach Bob Mihalik decided to throw the ball early, before reverting back to his team's normal offense of "smashmouth and play action."

"We had some things open in the first half," Mihalik said. "I think we knew we could go right at them, so we did from the second quarter on.

"Defensively, I think we did a great job against their two quarterbacks," he added. "They put up 28 points on Copley a couple weeks ago, so we were worried."

"I feel like we left some plays on the field in the first half," said Twinsburg coach Mike Bell. "The bottom line is, they got in that stack [I-formation] and ran it down our throats. We didn't have an answer for them."

Both defenses played well early, so it was fitting Aurora got rolling off a turnover.

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Brent Henderson picked off Tiger quarterback Jalen Tucker and returned it to the Tiger 33-yard line.

Three plays later, Aurora slotback Jonathan Blue ran a jet sweep in for a 21-yard touchdown with 3:09 left in the first half.

The special teams' battle went Aurora's way most of the night, including when Gavin Blunt returned a punt to the Tiger 16 late in the first quarter.

Two plays later, Aurora running back Chris Vanzo went up the middle for a 7-yard score, making it 14-0 after one quarter.

Vanzo had a huge game, finishing with 194 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries.

Twinsburg got on the board by giving Aurora a dose of its own medicine.

Twinsburg's Jared Eaton ripped the ball out of an Aurora receiver's hands for an interception with 8:21 left in the first half.

Twinsburg got its passing game going on the ensuing drive, as Tucker hit Tre Radford for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

Eaton then ran in the two-point conversion, cutting it to 14-8 with 6:12 left in the half.

Tucker went 9-of-15 for 115 yards, one touchdown and one pick through the air. However, he and fellow quarterback Adam Van de Motter were being pressured most of the night.

"They have a very good front four who really get after you," Bell said. "[Aurora is] as well coached a team as you will see in Northeast Ohio."

Radford has a solid night, with seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.

After the interception, Aurora threw two more passes on the night.

The Greenmen answered the touchdown with a smashmouth drive: Five straight runs yielded 78 yards, capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Vanzo.

Some bad snaps stalled Aurora's next drive in the Tigers' red zone, but kicker Robby Albrecht nailed a 32-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half. Albrecht went 5-of-5 on extra points on the night.

Aurora kept pounding to start the second half. Vanzo opened the half with a 56-yard run, but Eaton caught him at the 1-yard line, forcing Vanzo to fumble out of the end zone for a touchback.

Aurora had five fumbles on the night, losing two of them.

"A couple of fumbles hurt us and we need to learn from that," Mihalik said. "Chris Vanzo's a great running back for us, but he made a mistake not covering up at the end of that run."

It ended up being only a temporary respite for the Tigers, as Vanzo scored two more touchdowns on sweeps to the right. He scored on runs of seven and 4 yards, respectively, in the third quarter, giving Aurora a 38-8 lead after three quarters.

Twinsburg stopped the running clock with 5:32 left in the game, as Eaton ran in a 3-yard touchdown. But the Tigers would get no closer.

"We've got to get back to work," Bell said. "There's a ton of work to do, but I know these kids are willing to do it."

The Tigers will open play in Suburban League National Conference Sept. 16 when it travels to North Royalton. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC

Twitter:@MLeonard_RPC


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