Twinsburg football drops season opener at Copley
It didn’t look like or feel like a 24-point defeat, but that does not ease the disappointment for Twinsburg football coach Mike Bell in his team’s season opening 31-7 loss Sept. 11 at Copley.
There were times that Twinsburg looked great – including individual efforts by exciting newcomers on offense at key positions against a strong Copley defense.
Despite making some mistakes and giving up some big plays, the Tiger defense had some impressive moments with tremendous penetration and won the turnover battle.
It wasn’t enough to offset errors on both sides of the ball, a ground game that never materialized and too many penalties.
“The game had a different feel than what the score indicated, but it was disappointing – at the same time, there were a lot of good things that happened,” said Bell.
“Our miscues just overshadowed the good things we did.”
Copley (2-0) had a game under its belt, which may have been a factor, but Bell didn’t want to make any excuses.
“I think we have a sense of urgency as these kids have a chip on their shoulder from last year, and I want that level of urgency, but I know it has to be the right level and with the late start, we don’t want guys putting unneeded pressure on themselves,” said Bell.
One of the concerns is that the running game never got on track. The Tigers had a long run of 11 yards and had just 57 yards on 32 attempts.
With a new quarterback, Bell noted how essential a solid ground attack is.
However, some of that had to do with Copley and a front six or seven that includes Vanderbilt recruit Antoine Campbell, 230-pound middle linebacker college prospect London Robinson, and standout freshman backer Dorian Pringle.
“We sputtered with our running game,” said Bell as back Aiden Corrigan was held to 17 yards on 10 carries.
“Each year, I always have a concern about getting five guys on our line to be consistent – it’s a real focus,” Bell said. “This year, it is especially critical with a new quarterback.”
Bell also pointed to a slew of Tigers who play on both ends of the ball, including seniors Alex Branch, Jordan Maxwell, Corrigan, Xavier Branch and Antoine Brown, just to name a few.
On the positive side, a pair of juniors with increased roles this fall were impressive on the offensive end — wide receiver Nathan Christensen and quarterback Trevor Horvath.
Christiensen looked like a veteran as he registered career highs of eight receptions, 120 yards and his first varsity touchdown.
“Nathan had a really good game and we are excited where he can go from here and what he can do,” noted Bell. “He looks like he will be a reliable and consistent player for us.”
Horvath showed how much he has matured at quarterback as he shined when he rolled out and move around in the pocket. He hit 14 of 35 passes for 175 yards, and one TD.
Most importantly, Horvath didn’t throw an interception or turn the ball over despite being under pressure.
“Trevor played well and I thought he did a great job of taking care of the ball for us and trying to make plays,” offered Bell.
On the scoring drive, Horvath had a pair of 11-yard first down passes to Brown and Christiensen.
Facing pressure, Horvath ran out of the pocket and found senior wide out Manny Curtis for another first down that netted 14 yards. He also had a nice rollout to the right on fourth down and found Christiensen for a first down.
On the touchdown, Horvath rolled to his left and found Christiensen deep in the middle of the end zone on a 13-yard strike. Then junior kicker Shantonu Banerjee booted his first extra point of his varsity career.
Senior back Aaron Wallace had 19 yards rushing on five carries while Alex Branch and senior Chris Wilson were impressive running back kickoffs. Branch had a 51-yard return.
Defensive pressure was led by Corrigan, Maxwell, senior Quran Franklin and junior tackle Tyson Jacobs, who also had a fumble recovery. Senior Michael Penny and freshman Declan Malanchek also had stops behind the line.
Copley just made plays with veteran athletes.
Quarterback Joe Reho hit Darryl Pringle with a 49-yard TD pass as Reho hit Pringle on play action and the slot receiver just outraced Alex Branch to make it 14-0 in the second period after a scorless first stanza.
After a short Tiger punt, Copley started at the Twinsburg 28 and soon scored in the final minute of the first half to push it to 21-0 as Reho found Luke Brenner on a 9-yard TD pass after being flushed out of the pocket.
After the Jacobs fumble recovery, Twinsburg got to the Copley 8, but the drive stalled on downs.
The next drive, Reho had a 77-yard run on a read option and the Tiger defense held and limited Copley to a field goal, but Twinsburg again stalled on downs on the ensuing drive inside the Copley 10.