Aurora -- Spearheaded by a strong defensive showing, the Aurora High football team continued it late season march with a 28-3 league win at Lake County Perry.
Aurora moved to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division and are in a four-way tie for first place. The youthful Pirates (3-5 overall) fell to 2-3 in the division.
Chagrin Falls, which is also 4-1 in the CVC Chagrin with its big 22-20 win over previously undefeated West Geauga, joins Aurora at the top of the league with Kenston and West G.
"It was a good win and the key was that our defense held Perry to just three points," said head coach Bob Mihalik. "Our defense played Perry extremely well."
In upcoming action, Aurora plays Oct. 25 at Painesville Harvey (2-6, 0-5) and then in Week 10 hosts Kenston.
"We're excited about Chagrin's win over West G. and we are still in the league championship race," said the coach. "With two weeks left, both of our goals are still there -- we can hopefully win out and share or win the CVC, and then get to the playoffs."
Senior quarterback George Bollas had a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Luke Calcei early on. It proved to be enough points with Aurora's superb defensive play. Calcei became the seventh receiver this year who has caught a TD pass.
Back from an injury, junior placekicker Joey Melchiori connected on the first of four extra point kicks.
Then Bollas found senior fullback Romel Pollard out of the backfield over the middle of the field as Pollard ran 40 yards for the Greenmen's second score.
Perry's Kyle Kremiller then booted a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was 14-3 in a first half that had its share of errors and turnovers by both teams, but the Pirates still had a chance.
ZACK CARNOVALE'S interception of Bollas and a 30-yard pass from Ryan Kahoun to Joey Medlen saw Perry threaten, but the Aurora defense held behind its pressure.
Aurora's defense shut out Perry in the second half as Ohio's 12th-ranked club in Division III limited the Pirates and their multiple sets and formations, keeping Perry out of the red zone.
Junior defensive lineman Brian McNamara then scored his first touchdown on a huge play -- a 12-yard blocked punt. He blocked it on a quick kick by the Pirates on third down. That made it 21-3 in the third period.
"That was a big play and it's his first ever touchdown, which is pretty big for a two-way lineman like Brian," said Mihalik. "It was really big for him to score."
Senior running back Mitch Lackey scored Aurora's final TD in the third period to seal the win. It was a one-yard plunge. The Greenmen finished the game with a decisive 15-play drive that controlled the ball as well as the clock.
Aurora is looking to win or share its eighth league title in the past nine years and also qualify for the Division III playoffs.
The defense is allowing only 101 yards a game, a 3.6-yard average. Aurora is pounding out 244 yards rushing per contest.
Defensive leaders on the year have been junior linebacker Ryan Devine (72 tackles, five sacks), junior linebacker Mike Stratton (70 stops, four sacks, and three caused fumbles), junior end Brandon Zamary (52 tackles, four QB hurries, four tackles for a loss), junior linebacker Alex Smierciak (49 stops, four tackles for a loss), plus linemen Pollard (39 tackles, five stops for a loss), and senior Justin Wazbinski (38 stops, four tackles for a loss).
Bollas has 1,644 total yards and 20 TDs in eight games. He has rushed for 620 yards and eight scores while passing at a 60-percent clip -- 1,024 yards, 12 TDs and four interceptions.