AURORA — It was a plan that failed miserably.
Fortunately for the Aurora football team, the end result could not have been more beautiful.
The host Greenmen earned a thrilling come-from-behind 29-28 victory over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Friday evening at Veterans Stadium.
After a 46-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Jack Arnold, it looked like Aurora’s chances of getting its first victory of 2018 was going to slip through its fingertips.
Actually, it did — literally.
Trailing 28-27 with 8 minutes, 30 seconds left, senior Colin McNamara bobbled the snap on the point-after try.
But the mishandled snap turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to the Greenmen (1-1).
That’s because McNamara calmly gathered the ball, took a step and then found senior tight end Alec Houston in the end zone.
As a result, a potential disaster turned out to be a critical 2-point conversion. And that conversion gave Aurora the improbable win.
"Colin just mishandled it," 18th-year Aurora head coach Bob Mihalik said. "But he kept his composure. He made the call to go to the end zone and fortunately, our tight ends and slots ran the correct routes. But no, it did not go as planned."
It turns out there was a reason why Houston found himself open for the winning points. And Royals’ fourth-year head coach Dan Larlham may lose some sleep about it.
"It was my fault," he said. "I thought they were going to kick it. We had 10 men on the field and I should have called time-out."
It was a fitting way for the game to be decided after many crazy twists and turns.
The Greenmen had trouble containing CVCA’s dazzling trio of playmakers in senior wide receiver/running back Tre Tucker, senior running back Jacob Decatur and sophomore quarterback Michael Bevington.
By the way, Tucker is the reigning 100-meter champion and Decatur is a state wrestling champion.
However, Aurora found a way to neutralize the Royals’ high-powered attack when it mattered.
The Greenmen forced CVCA to punt despite being at midfield and they forced the Royals (1-1) to turn it over on downs on CVCA’s final two possessions.
"Those guys have a lot of wiggle," Mihalik said of the Royals’ trio. "Their quarterback was slippery. We made two key stops when we needed them."
Aurora’s defense was led by junior linebacker AJ Barner, who had 19 total tackles, including two for a loss, Arnold (13 tackles) and senior defensive lineman Javonte Douglas (11 tackles and a sack).
Arnold finished with just four carries for 58 yards. One of those rushing attempts may have been the most important play of the game.
"Jack is one of those guys who never leaves the field on defense," Mihalik said. "He’s also our long snapper on kicks and punts. We try to give him a rest when we can, but it was gut-check time."
Tucker, who lined up out of the wildcat formation several times, finished with 123 yards on 14 carries. He had TD rushes of 6, 26 and 11, respectively.
"I’ve got the best player in the state," Larlham said of Tucker.
Decatur finished with 150 yards in 31 attempts. Bevington added a 13-yard scoring run. While the loss was devastating, Larhlham believes his team will put this behind them and go back to work.
"We have some tough kids," he said. "They should be 2-0. We didn’t measure ourselves in terms of wins and losses [Friday]. We’ll measure ourselves when the final whistle is blown. This stings, but I know they will respond."
Aurora also got TD rushes from senior tailback Kobe Coachman (5 yards), McNamara (8) and Jordan DeMicco (4).
Junior tailback James Austin ran for 66 yards in 15 attempts and McNamara had 79 yards rushing on 12 carries.
CVCA outgained the Greenmen 342-272 on the ground as neither team passed the ball much.
"We felt good about the way we ran the ball," Mihalik said. "We changed our blocking schemes and our line handled the adjustments well. I’m sure it was a fun game to watch."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org.