After slow start, Aurora football grinds out win at Revere

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Aurora wide receiver Jacob Matousek looks for running room during week one against Brecksville-Broadview Heights. Aurora scored a 12-7 win at Revere Sept. 4 to earn its first win of the season.

It took almost 18 full minutes before Aurora collected its initial first down, but when push came to shove, Aurora beat Revere at its own game 12-7 as gridiron action kicked off in the Suburban League American Conference.

Trailing in the game, Revere elected to go to its power ground game in the second half and feature its talented and massive offensive line against Aurora’s smallish defensive front.

The Greenmen, fresh off a raw opening loss to Brecksville, would have none of it in Richfield.

Aurora’s defense held as 225-pound Kent State recruit Shane Slattery was given the ball for the Minutemen to get the go-ahead touchdown.

There wasn’t any mystery – Slattery had eight consecutive carries and got the ball nine out of 10 times on a 12-play drive that spilled into the fourth quarter.

Revere (0-1) reached the Aurora 36, but never did score as Aurora’s defense tightened up against the size of the hosts.

“Hats off to Revere because they are so big and strong and have three big offensive linemen, and kids who are going to major colleges – I think our guys answered the call,” said Aurora head coach Bob Mihalik after the win.

“Our defense did a great job after we faced a Brecksville club that had size too,” added Mihalik. “Those were two physical games.”

Featuring Ohio State recruit Ben Christman (6-6, 299) at left tackle, Revere also has tackle Aidan Palmer (6-5, 275), guards Colton Carmichael (6-2, 260) and Isaac Nauer (6-2, 220), and center Cole Bonfiglio (5-10, 228).

Having a breakout game, Aurora senior captain Toto Gomez was excellent despite his smallish size.

Gomez had a slew of tackles, plus he had a fumble recovery to head a Greenmen defense that came on strong.

“Toto is maybe 5-7 and 170 pounds, and he really battled in there and we’re very proud of him going up against those big guys,” siad Mihalik.

“He (Gomez) is quick and small and is really active in there, plus he has great hand placements to get off blocks,” Mihalik added. “Our defense battled really well and we really only gave up the one big play.”

That play came when Cameron Penzenik took a slip screen pass and outraced the Aurora defense for a 73-yard touchdown as Revere led 7-0 at the 11:06 mark of the second quarter.

Outside of that huge play, Aurora’s defense only gave up 113 yards the entire game and seven first downs.

Prior to that, Aurora’s defense also halted Revere on a fourth-and-3 from the Greenmen’s 35-yard line.

Held to just six yards and no first downs in the first quarter, Aurora’s offense was stymied until a 12-yard burst up the middle by junior Aiden Henderson. It was Aurora’s initial first down and it came at the 6:06 mark of the second stanza.

On the next play, junior quarterback Alex Moore hit junior Jack Cardaman on a 27-yard crossing pattern that was keyed by a block by junior Derek Blum.

Several plays later on third-and-8, Moore rolled right and threw a dart across his body to Cardaman, who caught the 20-yard TD pass in a crowded end zone in the right corner.

Christman then penetrated and blocked the extra point, but Aurora cut the Revere lead to 7-6 with 3:51 left in the first half. Christman also blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter.

Henderson made one of the game’s biggest plays when he stepped in front of a Zack Coffey pass and returned the interception 26 yards to the Revere 10.

Two plays later, senior Evan McVay had a 3-yard TD run for Aurora (1-1).

However, the 2-point conversion failed as there was a bad snap exchange. Aurora did seize the lead for good, 12-7, with 1:18 left in the third period.

That’s when Revere moved away from its passing game and went to a power run game with Slattery.

Although the hosts drove into Aurora territory twice in the fourth period, the Greenmen defense held and forced punts.

Moore, who had 205 total yards of offense, sealed the win with two first-down runs of 13 yards and 33 yards. He had 12 carries for 57 yards and was 10 of 19 passing for 148 yards and a TD.

“Our offensive line had a good second half after we made some adjustments at halftime. I was really pleased,” said Mihalik. “I think we just have to work on cleaning up some things like the blocked kick, penalties, and we need to work on our red zone offense and finishing our drives better.”

Cardaman had two catches for 47 yards and a TD, plus had a nice 20-yard punt return and three rushes for 15 yards.

Junior wide out Ryan Weber had three catches for 51 yards, Blum had two receptions for 34 yards, and junior tight end Ashton Price had a big 14-yard catch.

Henderson added 28 yards rushing on eight totes while sophomore backup QB Matt Geier had a nice 15-yard run.

Mihalik would like to improve the ground game and negate some of the penalties (6 for 45 yards).

Slattery finished with 62 yards on 17 carries.

In the midst of a four-game road journey, Aurora plays a league tilt at Tallmadge Sept. 11.

“It’s such a weird year with everything going on and we will be on the road, but really, there’s not much of a home field advantage this season,” noted Mihalik, alluding to the limited fan seating for statewide safety protocols during COVID-19.