Aerial attack leads Aurora football past Cuyahoga Falls
CUYAHOGA FALLS — The DNA of Aurora football's offense has been the same for the last two decades: Bob Mihalik-coached teams always prefer to play smashmouth ball.
This year, however, quarterback Alex Moore and a talented group of receivers have allowed the Greenmen to spread it out.
With Cuyahoga Falls determined to slow down Aurora's running attack, the aerial game paved the way to the Greenmen's fourth straight win.
Falls played Aurora close for one half, but the Greenmen pulled away to score a 34-7 win at Clifford Stadium Sept. 25.
Aurora improved to 4-1 on the season, while Falls dropped to 0-4.
Mihalik noted going to the passing game, for once, was Aurora's primary aim.
"That was our game plan from the start this week," Mihalik said. "We thought they played a lot of man-to-man and we had some great athletes that could beat them.
"Alex had a great game. I think he missed maybe two passes all night. Our offensive line did a great job. I think he was pressured maybe one time in the game."
Moore finished 12-of-16 for 256 yards and two touchdowns, as well as scoring a 1-yard rushing touchdown on the night.
"We were going to throw it because they played a lot of man," Moore said. "I think that we can go as far as we did last year, if not farther."
Meanwhile, Falls coach Shane Parker was happy with his team's effort, particularly in the first half, but noted the Black Tigers made too many mistakes to win.
"A lack of execution in the third quarter really ended up costing us," Parker said. "We've got to be able to clean that up in practice. You can't make the amount of mental errors we did against a team like Aurora."
The Greenmen used all the weapons in their arsenal on their first drive.
After converting a fourth-down pass in Falls territory, Aurora took the lead when Dylan Fishback plunged into the end zone from a yard out with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
Falls would answer with what Parker called his team's best drive of the season.
Aided by a roughing the passer penalty on fourth down, Falls completed a 17-play, 74-yard drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock.
The drive was highlighted by Black Tiger quarterback Vonte Jackson completing a contested 26-yard pass to Elijah Hicks on third-and-23.
Jackson showed flashes off brilliance all night, going 6-of-12 for 101 yards passing and rushing nine times for 46 yards.
Running back Kobe Brown completed the drive for Falls by running in a 5-yard touchdown with 9:08 left in the first half. A bad snap foiled the extra point, leaving the score at 7-6.
Brown was the game's leading rusher with 20 carries for 82 yards.
"I think we're starting to grow as a team and get better on offense," Parker said. "That was out best drive of the season against a very good defense."
"The play hard," Mihalik said of the Black Tigers. "The have a very unique formation. We couldn't get off the field on third and fourth down on that drive. Still, we only gave up six points."
Aurora responded with the first of two touchdown strikes from Moore to wide receiver Jack Cardaman.
Cardaman ran a perfect post route and Moore hit him in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown strike with 6:08 left in the first half.
Cardaman caught four balls for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
"Jack is one of the fastest guys on the team," Moore said. "I knew he could have a big night.
Falls actually won the turnover battle 2-1, highlighted by Brown ripping the ball out of Cardaman's hands for a fumble with 2:02 left in the half. However Falls could do nothing with the possession before halftime.
After forcing Falls to punt to open the second half, the Greenmen got back to work.
Running back Evan McVay hauled in a pair of nice passes from Moore on the drive to get the Greenmen inside the Black Tiger 10. McVay then capped the drive with a 4-yard sweep for a touchdown with 5:54 left in the third.
McVay led the Greenmen with five carries for 24 yards, as Aurora only ran the ball 21 times for 55 yards.
Moore hit Aurora's biggest play of the night next. He threw a long ball to Cardaman, who outraced Falls' defense for a 77-yard touchdown with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hayden Hall missed the extra point, keeping it a 27-6 after three quarters. Hall was perfect on his other extra points.
Moore nearly tossed his third touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter. He tossed a bomb to a wide-open Ryan Weber, but overthrew him just a bit. Weber made a great leaping catch for a 42-yard gain to the Falls 5.
Moore completed the drive and the scoring two plays later, running a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown with 7:16 left in the game.