Twinsburg's football team executed pretty well in the first half of the season opener — they just made some mistakes and didn't take care of the ball.
Behind a record-setting showing by senior quarterback Adam Van de Motter, that wasn't an issue in the second half as the Tigers cruised to a wild 49-28 victory over visiting Copley Aug. 24.
It was a game loaded with big plays and Van de Motter had his share, to say the least.
Van de Motter is believed to have set school records unofficially with 405 yards passing, 487 total yards, and five touchdowns passing. He was 17-27 through the air for 405 yards and had nine rushes for 82 yards.
It was one of the top performances in a history of Tiger quarterbacks that include Robby Davis, Jalen Washington, Kelly Herndon, Aaron Swenson, Bryan Miller, Aaron Macer, Cory Eden, Jalen Tucker, Todd Maynard, Andrew Collier, and Mike Peelman.
"Adam (Van de Motter) had a tremendous game for us and he is a great kid, who continues to work hard," said Tiger head coach Mike Bell.
Bell raved about how his club responded after four first half fumbles with a big 28-7 advantage in the second half.
"We did a good job of cleaning things up in the second half and I'm proud of the way the kids responded," he pointed out.
"The good thing is that the fumbles and mistakes are correctable items that we can work on," Bell added.
The fourth play from scrimmage set the tone for a big-play contest as Van de Motter found junior wide receiver Dominick Glenn in stride over the middle on a pass and Glenn raced 67 yards for a touchdown.
A Tiger fumble by senior wide out James Besett led to a 58-yard TD pass from Joe Reho to Tyson Durant as Copley then took a 7-6 lead.
Another big-play happened with the new combination of Van de Motter and Glenn. This time it was a 40-yard TD strike and a 2-point run by Jamir James gave the Tigers a 14-7 lead at the 2:45 mark of the first quarter.
Twinsburg suffered another fumble — this time by Glenn — in Tiger territory. It led to a 30-yard TD pass from Reho to Rhett Van Voorhis, who stiff-armed a Tiger defender to make it 14-14 with 11:12 left in the first half.
Then senior receiver Jameel Banks caught an out-cut pass for Twinsburg and slid out of traffic to outrace everyone on a thrilling 65-yard scoring catch down the left sideline.
Senior Ethan Wohlwend booted the PAT and the Tigers led 21-14 at the 9:43 mark.
A hard hit by the Indians saw sophomore back Marvahun Johnson fumble and Copley got the ball at the Tigers' 15, but the defense tightened.
Linebacker John DeLisio came up with a huge play as the senior recovered a Copley fumble as the Indians were denied after scoring twice off turnovers.
A 51-yard pass from Van de Motter to Banks put Twinsburg right back into Copley territory until Van de Motter fumbled at the 30-yard line.
Six plays later, a pass was thrown deep into double coverage, but 6-foot-2 Devin Prude took down the ball and then outraced the Tiger secondary 66 yards for a back-breaking TD with three seconds left to make it 21-21 at the half.
After a three-and-out by the defense, the Tigers had a textbook 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive as James ran in from two yards out behind right tackle and senior fullback Austin Cefaratti.
Wohlwend's kick made it 28-21 with 7:40 left in the third stanza after the Tiger defense forced another punt.
Twinsburg responded with a 15-play, 87-yard scoring drive. The hosts scored on 4th-and-6 as Van de Motter hit Banks in the right flat for a 6-yard TD pass on the last play of the third quarter to make it 35-21 with the PAT.
On the next play, junior Brett Callow shocked Copley with a pop-up onside kick that senior Phillip Wallace recovered at the Copley 30, but Van de Motter was intercepted.
Copley didn't give up and cut the lead to 35-28 when Prude was wide open on a 64-yard TD pass with 7:51 left in the game.
However, another Tiger senior made another big play on special teams. Justin Allen got the short kick off and went 43 yards to the Copley 30.
Thanks to a key block by senior Aiden Malenchek, a scrambling Van de Motter ran 15 yards and a hit out of bounds pushed the ball to the Copley 12.
After a one-yard run by Wallace, Van de Motter found sophomore Logan Genos in the right corner of the endzone for his first career TD to make it 42-28.
Deep in the second half Twinsburg needed a ground game and due to some cramps, the running back corps was thin and Wallace responded with some tough running and ball security.
Wallace was then rewarded as he broke tackles to run 23 yards for his first career TD.
"Phillip (Wallace) came and we were deep into the backfield, and we needed him," explained Bell as Wallace had career highs of 57 yards on 13 carries.
Besett had a strong game with seven catches for 113 yards as Twinsburg had three receivers over 100 yards each — likely another school mark.
Glenn posted career highs of five catches for 163 yards and two scores.
Also registering career highs was Banks, who had three catches for 122 yards and two TDs. Banks also had a key 5-yard run for one the Tigers’ 18 first downs. James had 38 yards on 10 totes.
Despite giving up big plays, Twinsburg's defense held Copley to six first downs. Reho was 15-28 passing for 275 yards and four TDs.
Senior bookend defensive ends Rashad Jonesland and Malenchek were outstanding. At times, Copley could not block Jonesland, who was in the backfield the entire game.
"Rashad and Aiden did a tremendous job and they are really good players for us," noted Bell.
The Tigers have a tough non-league road trip to arch-rival Solon Friday at 7 p.m.
Bell is uncertain of the status of two-way standout Kyle Apple (foot). All-district wide receiver Tre Radford is already out indefinitely.