Aurora football stumbles in playoff warm-up with Copley
The opportunities were there.
In fact, head coach Bob Mihalik and the rest of his Aurora football team probably spent the rest of Friday night replaying them in their heads.
But that is football.
As much as you desperately want a do-over, they do not exist.
On Oct. 9, unfortunately for the Greenmen, they ran into a very good and very fast Copley team, which displayed why they have yet to be beaten this season.
Very good teams force opponents into missed opportunities.
The Indians, now a perfect 6-0 on the season after finishing 2019 just 2-8, traveled to Veterans Stadium and secured a 10-7 triumph in a game that was expected to showcase high-powered offenses, but turned into an impressive defensive back-and-forth.
Copley entered the game averaging 30 points per game, but Aurora’s defense played well and held the Indians to 87 yards on 35 carries and 124 yards through the air (211 total yards).
The game-breaker was Preston Taylor’s 87-yard touchdown catch on a designed throw-back screen at the 1:34 mark in the third quarter.
On third down, Copley quarterback Joe Reho rolled to his left, pumped a fake pass as he stumbled his way out of defensive pressure, planted his feet and released a soft toss just before he was tackled by the Greenmen.
Reho’s pass floated to Taylor, who turned up field, where three blockers were set up in front of him. Taylor sprinted down the middle of the turf and into the end zone to push the Indians’ lead to 10-0.
Copley’s standout kicker Jarred Kerekes had booted a 37-yard field goal with 27 seconds left in the first quarter after an interception by Landon Robinson set up the short field for the Indians.
Aurora entered the game averaging 33 points per game, but was bottled up to 61 yards on 27 totes and 102 yards and three interceptions in the passing game (163 total yards).
The Greenmen missed a 35-yard field goal in the closing moments of the second quarter, when a slightly high snap disrupted rhythm.
Aurora also had a pair of likely touchdowns slip out of their hands, but ultimately, the Indians’ constant defensive pressure made the Greenmen offense uncomfortable throughout the game.
Aurora had only one run of more than 10 yards in the game and quarterback Evan Moore was rushed into throws or sacked on more than a few occasions.
But Moore helped breathe life into Aurora with a fourth-quarter touchdown throw to Ryan Weber from 19 yards out with 3:44 to play and two timeouts. The scoring drive was set up by an interception by Jack Cardaman.
On Copley’s next possession, they ran for one first down, but then was forced to punt. The kick by Kerekes boomed from the Indians’ 37 to the Aurora 13 with the help of a favorable bounce. Aurora took over with 2:02 on the clock, but on the first play of the drive, Copley’s Darryl Pringle stepped into the passing lane for a game-securing interception.
“We needed a game like this,” Aurora head coach Bob Mihalik said. “Win or lose, this was good for us. Copley is a very good team.
“The key to the game was their speed on defense against our offense,” Mihalik added. “You simply have to tip your cap to coach (Jake) Parsons and what he has done with his team. I thought our defense played their hearts out, but we just did not make enough plays tonight.”
Aurora will begin postseason play next Friday, when they host Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in a second-round game. The Lions defeated Louisville on Friday.