By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Aurora celebrated a team win on Friday night and also a coaching milestone.
The Greenmen knocked off Gilmour Academy 30-27 in a Division III regional quarterfinal showdown, using a fourth-quarter touchdown run of 15 yards by Brandon Liepins to top the Lancers and advance to next Friday’s regional semifinals.
The victory was also career win No. 200 for longtime head coach Bob Mihalik.
Mihalik, in his 23rd year with the Greenmen, is now 200-69 in his career for a win percentage of .744. He becomes just the third football coach in Portage County history to achieve the 200-win milestone, joining retired Kent Roosevelt Hall of Fame coach John Nemec and current Mogadore head coach Matt Adorni, who achieved the feat just last week for the Wildcats.
Aurora will face Chardon (9-3), which defeated Geneva 28-14 on Friday, in next week’s regional final.
The game will be played at a neutral site, which the Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce on Sunday.
In Friday’s triumph, the Greenmen jumped out to a 9-0 victory after the first quarter, but the Lancers answered in the second quarter with a touchdown to cut the lead to 9-7.
Aurora pushed its lead back up to 16-7 before Gilmour scored late in the second quarter to make it 16-14.
Gilmour Academy then took the lead, 21-16, by scoring on an interception return to start the third quarter.
That lead was short lived, with Ben Lukasik taking the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, giving Aurora the lead back at 23-21.
The back-and-forth action continued, with Gilmour scoring next on an 11-yard aerial strike, giving the Lancers a 27-23 lead.
Liepins then scored the go-ahead, and eventually game-winning, touchdown with 10:27 to play and Aurora’s defense held up on the lead.
Lukasik finished with 43 yards rushing and 57 yards receiving, while Leipins was 11-of-17 through the air for 102 yards.