By Sean Duffy
MEDINA, OHIO– Sports on Tap prides itself on picking great high school football games to cover as our Game of the Week. Whether it be a low scoring defensive battle, or a shoot out that keeps us on the edge of our seat right up until the final whistle, Sports on Tap has covered them all.
This week’s Game of the Week was no different. In fact, it might just be the best game we have covered in the short time we have been doing our games of the week. The Aurora Greenemen traveled to Medina to take on the undefeated Highland Hornets in a crucial Suburban League American Division matchup.
The first quarter was a defensive battle for the most part, each team’s offense was well-known and scouted by the opposing defenses. Highland did provide Aurora an opportunity early as they fumbled the ball and it was recovered at midfield. However, great defensive play from Highland did not allow Aurora to capitalize on the mistake.
Aurora’s defense also imposed its will on this night as they forced another Highland fumble, this time recovered and returned for a 33-yard touchdown by linebacker Brent Henderson. At the end of the first quarter Aurora led, 7-0.
Highland was able to tie the game with early in the second quarter on a 69-yard TD pass from QB Matthew Earnest to WR Jake Sir Louis. The momentum continued to tilt in favor of the Hornets thanks to a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown from runningback Jake Rogers, and just like that, Highland was up 14-7 with 1:29 left in the half.
Aurora executed their two minute offense to march down the field and get a 36-yard field goal from Robby Albrecht, but Highland still led 14-10 at the half.
The third quarter began with Highland forcing an Aurora punt and marching 75 yards down the field to score on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Earnest to Sir Louis, Highland’s lead now 21-10 midway through the quarter.
Aurora immediately responded thanks to a 71-yard touchdown run from QB Colin McNamara, but a failed two-point conversion attempt made the score 21-16 in favor of Highland.
The Aurora defense again made a huge impact on the game intercepting a Matthew Earnest pass setting the Greenmen up deep inside Hornet Territory. Aurora scored three plays later on a seven-yard touchdown run from Brent Henderson, but yet another failed two-point conversion made the score 22-21 at the end of the third frame.
The fourth quarter was a roller coaster of emotions on both sides of the field. Highland’s defense was able to force an Aurora fumble, which in turn gave the Hornets excellent field position. However, costly penalties coupled with a smothering Aurora defense forced a missed field goal attempt from Highland.
Aurora clung to a 22-21 lead heading in to the last three minutes of the game. Highland started with ball on their own 31-yard line, utilizing great throws by Earnest and equally great drive extending catches from Sir Louis and Ryan Fredrick. Highland got the ball down to the Aurora five-yard line.
Here is where things got interesting. After a Rogers run for no gain on first and goal, Earnest rolled out the pocket to his right and saw that two of his receivers were covered in the end zone. He decided to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone and live to fight on third down.
Inexplicably, the referee threw a flag for intentional grounding, resulting in a 10-yard penalty and also a loss of down. This meant that now instead of third and goal from the Aurora five-yard line, it was now fourth and goal from the Aurora 15-yard line.
Needless to say the Highland faithful were none to pleased with the call and made sure the officiating crew heard their displeasure. Highland was then forced to try a game winning 32-yard field goal with just 1o seconds left on the clock from the right hash mark. Highland’s kicker sophomore Justin Tepes got enough leg into the kick, but the ball sailed right of the goal post and was no good. Aurora escaped Highland with 22-21 victory.
Highland falls to 6-1 on the season and 2-1 in the Suburban League American, the Hornets were led by Matthew Earnest and Jake Sir Louis who connected with two touchdowns on the night. Highland will look to right the ship next week as they travel to Copley in Week 8.
Aurora improved to 3-4 on the season and 3-1 in the Suburban League American. They were led by QB Colin McNamara who had big momentum swinging TD run in the second half. Aurora’s Brent Henderson had one rushing TD and one defensive TD on the evening, earning player of the game status. Aurora will look to continue its winning ways as they host Revere in Week 8.
Sports on Tap sure does know how to pick ’em!