Aurora -- It's become a tradition for Aurora and Twinsburg to bang heads in the first couple weeks of the season. Over the last few years, this game has produced some instant classics.
Last week's game at Veterans Stadium may not have been a classic, but it was another hard-fought chapter between the two backyard rivals.
Aurora dominated the first half everywhere except the scoreboard, and the Greenmen were forced to hang on for a 20-13 win. Greenmen coach Bob Mihalik noted that his young team put up a gutsy effort.
"It wasn't a pretty win, but Aurora football doesn't always win pretty," Mihalik said. "We're a young team with only four starters back on each side. Our seniors have great character. Twinsburg gave us some looks that we hadn't seen before, so their coaches did a good job preparing for us."
Twinsburg coach Joe Schiavone told his players post-game that the reason they lost was simple. "Too many mistakes, bottom line," Schiavone said. "But those are correctable things."
Schiavone said he had no problem with his team's effort, particularly in the second half.
"It was more the fact we needed to settle the guys down and just make plays," Schiavone said. "I think we were a different team in the second half. I told them I was proud of their effort."
Aurora dominated the first half 224-62 in total yards, including 145 to minus-14 on the ground.
However, Aurora was not able to take advantage as its first drive ended with an interception by Twinsburg's Noah Edwards at the 5-yard line.
Aurora did punch it in with 2:29 left in the first quarter when quarterback George Bollas ran in from 6 yards out. The extra point bounced off the upright to make it 6-0.
Bollas had a big two-way game, going 8 of 13 for 83 yards through the air and running 17 times for 105 yards on the ground.
AFTER PINNING Twinsburg back on its next drive, Aurora struck again when running back Kirk Janoch broke loose for a 42-yard touchdown run with 8:24 left in the half. Janoch ran 10 times for 78 yards. Bollas ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 14-0.
After being stuck in neutral for most of the first half, Twinsburg finally found its offense through the air.
With 5:32 left in the half, Tigers quarterback Mike Peelman found Tay Johnson open for a 28-yard lob and a score. Aurora blocked the extra point.
Peelman went 8 of 16 for 172 yards and one touchdown and one interception through the air, but ran for just 11 yards on 16 rushing attempts as he was sacked seven times.
"Peelman is just a gamer," Schiavone said. "He's a three-sport athlete. He did a good job just making the next play."
Twinsburg also fumbled the ball five times, but did not lose any.
Aurora responded with a 13-play, 61-yard drive, capped by Joey Melchiori's 25-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
"It sure didn't feel like it was close at halftime," Mihalik said. "I'm sure we had a big advantage in yardage, but the bottom line is it was 17-6."
Melchiori booted another field goal from 22 yards out with 1:50 left in the third quarter. That proved to be Aurora's only offense after halftime.
Meanwhile, Twinsburg looked to stage a fourth-quarter comeback.
Aided by several Aurora penalties, Twinsburg got back in the end zone with 10:33 left in the game. Deyonte Groce plunged in from 1 yard out and Jake Krieger's extra point cut the lead to 20-13.
Twinsburg then forced Aurora to go three-and-out and drove back into Greenmen territory.
However, after Twinsburg reached the Greenmen 33, Aurora sacked Peelman twice and made a great play on a screen pass, forcing Groce to take a 6-yard loss.
Peelman punted the ball away, and Aurora's ground-and-pound offense ran out the clock.
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