AURORA — Last year, the Aurora football team turned it up late to keep its impressive playoff streak alive.
It looks like the Greenmen will have to do the same thing this year.
Host Aurora dropped its second straight game, suffering a convincing 28-3 defeat to Highland on Friday at Veterans Stadium.
With the loss, the Greenmen dropped to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Suburban League American Conference.
The Hornets improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the American Conference.
For Aurora, the plan is quite simple. The Greenmen most likely have to win their next three games if they want to qualify for the postseason for the 14th consecutive year.
"The kids asked me after the game if we still had a shot to make the playoffs," Aurora head coach Bob Mihalik said. "I told them, ‘Yes.’ We have to win our next three games. We have to lick our wounds and prepare for Revere."
The Greenmen are scheduled to visit Revere in an American Conference showdown Oct. 12 at Joseph F. Pappano Stadium in Bath Township.
Highland dominated despite a missed field goal, a fumble on the opening kickoff deep in its own territory. The Hornets allowed just three points despite multiple trips to the red zone by Aurora.
Of course, when you’re stingy on defense and feature one of the top running backs in the state, your margin for error is, well, significantly greater than other teams.
The Hornets got interceptions from junior cornerback Bryce Profitt and senior safety Lukas Nemetz, who made his pick inside the red zone.
They also got a stellar game from senior linebacker Jack Myers, who made several tackles including a fourth-down stop deep in Highland territory.
And then there’s Rogers.
The three-sport standout, who is getting looks from Michigan State, Ohio State, Akron, Kent State, Bowling Green and Toledo, finished with 144 yards in 25 attempts and three touchdowns. Rogers, who also starts at cornerback, added a sack.
Rogers had a 20-yard TD run in the first quarter and also caught scoring passes of 12 and 68 yards, respectively, from senior quarterback Jack McGinty.
"We faced two great backs in the last two weeks," said Mihalik, whose team had trouble stopping running back Kyrie Young in a 42-20 loss to Barberton the previous week. "I think they are two of the best backs in Ohio. He (Rogers) also got us in the slot and we couldn’t make a tackle. He’s a playmaker."
McGinty also had a 3-yard TD pass to junior wide receiver Brady Linder.
Things started well for Aurora as senior defensive back Kobe Coachman recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff.
Despite taking over at the Hornets’ 20-yard line, the Greenmen couldn’t reach the end zone.
The drive stalled at the 13 and senior kicker Kyle Obly gave Aurora a 3-0 lead when he booted a 30-yard field goal.
"I think that was the big momentum changer," Mihalik said. "We got the fumble and we had to settle for a field goal. We practiced a new set all week and we didn’t execute and ended up having to take a timeout."
Highland outgained the Greenmen 338-175 and allowed just 29 rushing yards.
Aurora, which upset the Hornets 22-21 last year on the road, honored its 18 seniors prior to the game. When they left the field, it’s safe to say their sense of urgency to play beyond October is greater than ever.
"We played all of our seniors," Mihalik said. "They played hard. We just got punched in the mouth in all three phases of the game."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.