By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
Aurora coach Bob Mihalik knew exactly the kind of game his team was in for Friday night.
The Greenmen have favored the three-man I-formation on offense during their playoff run.
Chardon uses the wing-T offense.
This game had "smash mouth" 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.
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 tonight," 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, Zack Quinn and Jake McVay," Bollas said. "We wanted to beat them at their own game, which is running the football."
Chardon coach Mitch Hewitt paid tribute to the Greenmen attack.
"It was more their offense that wore us down," Hewitt said. "Their quarterback was excellent tonight and they've just got so many weapons."
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 3, Aurora engaged in a 20-play, 97-yard drive which ate up 9:28 of clock time.
Bollas capped the drive with a 3-yard sweep for a touchdown.
Chardon was moving the ball on its first drive, but the Greenmen defense came up big, forcing Hilltopper quarterback T.J. Benenati to fumble. The Greenmen's Nick Sotka fell on the ball at the Aurora 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.
Chardon answered with a 16-play drive of its own, capped by a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Benenati with 40 seconds left in the half.
Benenati nearly matched Bollas' big night as he rushed 27 times for 144 yards.
Aurora nearly found end 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 4-yard line with no time left on the clock.
Mihalik said he made a defensive adjustment, which slowed down the Hilltoppers in the second half.
"They were outflanking us a bit," he said.
After the two teams exchanged punts, Chardon took the lead for the first time after a 43-yard sprint by Benenati. Reilly Hawkins capped the drive with a 2-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.
"It's amazing to think that we were in position to win it," Hewitt said.
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, Aurora's option run on the 2-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 2-point conversion, making it 27-14 with 10:23 left in the game.
Aurora then sealed it on a fourth-and-1 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-yard line 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.
Aurora will advance to the Division I state semifinals next Friday at 7:30 p.m. at a site to be announced. The Greenmen will likely play Toledo Central Catholic in the semifinal, as the Irish defeated Avon 42-14 on Friday.
DIVISION II REGIONAL FINAL
AURORA 34, CHARDON 14
(At Twinsburg Tiger Stadium)
Aurora 7 6 6 15 -- 34
Chardon 0 7 7 0 -- 14
AUR -- Bollas 3 run (Melchiori kick)
AUR -- Bollas 53 run (kick blocked)
CHA -- Benenati 1 run (Bukovec kick)
CHA -- Hawkins 2 run (Bukovec kick)
AUR -- Bollas 55 run (run failed)
AUR -- Bollas 38 run (Janoch run)
AUR -- McVay 24 run (Melchiori kick)
First Downs 18 18
Rushes-Yards 37-352 53-253
Passes-Attempts 6-8 2-5
Passing Yards 76 11
Pass Intercepted by 0 0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalty-Yards 2-10 1-15