by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Twinsburg — Aurora head football coach Bob Mihalik knew exactly the kind of game his team was in for Nov. 16.
The Greenmen have favored the three-man I-formation on offense during their playoff run.
Chardon uses the wing-T offense.
This game had “smashmouth” written all over it — and that’s exactly what happened.
Aurora quarterback George Bollas had a career night with his legs, running for four touchdowns and 250 yards. His effort led a 34-14 win for the Greenmen in a Division II regional final at Twinsburg Tiger Stadium.
Aurora advances to the Division II state final four for the second straight year and improved to 12-1 on the year.
The Greenmen are scheduled to play Toledo Central Catholic (12-1), a 42-14 winner against Avon, Nov. 23 at Huron High School. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Chardon finished the season at 10-3.
Mihalik was beaming after the win, particularly about his quarterback’s play.
“George put us on his back,” Mihalik said. “[Running back] Zach Quinn turned his ankle a bit early on and George carried us. All the credit goes to our offensive line.”
“It’s really hard for any defense to stop a trio attack with me, Zach Quinn and Jake McVay,” Bollas said. “We wanted to beat them at their own game, which is running the football.”
Aurora opened the game with a drive Woody Hayes would have been proud of.
After a fumble on the opening kick set the Greenmen up at their own three-yard line, Aurora engaged in a 20-play, 97-yard drive which ate up 9 minutes, 28 seconds of clock time.
Bollas capped the drive with a three-yard sweep for a touchdown.
Chardon was moving the ball on its first drive, but the Greenmen defense came up big, forcing Hilltoppers’ quarterback T.J. Benenati to fumble. Aurora’s Nick Sotka fell on the ball at the Greenmen 18.
On the ensuing drive, Bollas turned a broken pass play into a 53-yard scamper for a touchdown. Chardon blocked the extra point, but Aurora had a 13-0 lead.
The Hilltppers answered with a 16-play drive of their own, capped by a one-yard quarterback sneak by Benenati with 40 seconds left in the half.
Benenati rushed 27 times for 144 yards.
Aurora nearly found the end zone at the end of the first half when Bollas hit Jake Smerciak with a 44-yard screen pass. However, Smerciak was cut down at the four with no time left on the clock.
After the two teams exchanged punts, the Hilltoppers took the lead for the first time after a 43-yard sprint by Benenati. Reilly Hawkins capped the drive with a two-yard wingback sweep for the score. Bobby Bukovec’s extra point gave Chardon a 14-13 lead with 4:54 left in the third quarter.
However, it was all Greenmen from that point.
Another big play by Bollas gave Aurora the lead right back when he scampered 55 yards for a touchdown with 4:35 left in the third quarter. However, the Greenmen’s option run on the two-point conversion failed.
Bollas scored his fourth touchdown early in the fourth quarter, this time from 38 yards out. Kirk Janoch ran in a reverse for the two-point conversion, making it 27-14 with 10:23 left in the game.
Aurora then sealed it on a fourth-and-one play with 4:36 left when McVay ran a sweep right, which went all the way for a 24-yard touchdown.
Chardon drove inside the Aurora 10 on its final drive, but Benenati’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
Bollas was 6-of-8 passing for 76 yards. McVay finished with 40 yards rushing, while Quinn had 64 yards rushing despite the bad ankle.