By ANDY WOLF
BLOOMDALE Fostoria High Schools Devin Mauricio is only a sophomore, but already someone his coach, Derek Kidwell, calls a special player.
The 5-foot-8, 150-pounder proved why as he caught a pass for and ran for touchdowns in the first half before breaking the game open with a 67-yard kick return touchdown to start the second half.
Mauricios return gave the Redmen a 26-14 cushion, one they wouldnt relinquish in defeating Elmwood 41-14 on its homecoming night Friday in Northern Buckeye Conference play.
Devins a player; thats why we put the ball in his hands a lot, Kidwell said. Whether thats fair or not, we kind of expect that out of Devin.
The Redmen upped their record to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in NBC play while the Royals (1-7, 0-5) dropped their fifth straight overall and fourth straight to Fostoria.
It was undoubtedly Mauricios kick return that shifted the momentum of a game that Fostoria led only 19-14 at halftime and even trailed 14-13.
He didnt have to make too many players miss, as he hit his lane after a few steps and broke into the clear before reaching midfield.
First thing, the guys I did the kick return with told me to take it back, Mauricio said. That gave me the confidence, first of all, and my blockers made a lane.
I felt the momentum shift a lot. We got a lot more confidence and I was really glad to make that opportunity happen.
The defense responded by pitching a shutout in the second half for the second straight game and forcing four Elmwood punts.
The Redmen tacked on touchdown runs by Jadyn Miller (27 yards) and Skyler Garcia (11 yds) to make the score look a little more lopsided.
Unfortunately, its a four-quarter game, Kidwell said. We need shutouts in the first (half) also. We cant just rely on pitching shutouts in the second half. Thats already bit us in the butt before.
Our kids fought hard and thats a good foundation, Elmwood coach Greg Bishop said. Were a young, inexperienced team. Weve just got to able to take that next step. If its there for the taking, grab it and hold on.
Mauricio finished with 103 receiving yards on seven catches and ran seven times for 65 yards.
He scored his teams first two touchdowns, one in each quarter, on a 36-yard keeper and a 25-yard strike from Garcia.
Garcia, who threw for 229 yards while completing 19 of 32 attempts, didnt play the first quarter because of disciplinary reasons.
That left Mauricio taking snaps with Jadyn Miller in the backfield next to him.
On his 36-yard score that capped a four-play opening drive, Mauricio held the ball in Millers chest for a bit before pulling it back and taking off down the left side, fighting off a defender inside the 10.
I knew they were going to bite hard if I cut in, Mauricio said. So I gave them a move and they bit, so I stiff-armed the one dude.
Despite Mauricios big-play ability, Elmwood answered both of his scores with long touchdown runs by Levi Garner.
He popped a 65-yarder on their first play of the second quarter and rumbled through the heart of the Fostoria defense again for a 45-yard score two Elmwood plays later to give them a 14-13 lead at the 7:08 mark.
Garner racked up 127 of his 178 rushing yards in the first half.
His line was just blocking for him, Bishop said. He did a good job. Hes a hard-nosed kid. Hes going to empty his tank every single time. Hes a kid that you appreciate that, because when things arent going your way, hes still going to keep going.
Unfortunately for Elmwood, Garner was the only dimension of offense for his team, which was down to freshman third-stringer Konner Logston at quarterback. He completed 6 of 11 passes for 0 net yards with an interception, and he was sacked three times.
Fostoria, normally pass happy, had the ground game working, too, as Maalik Tucker led with 81 rushing yards and Miller chipped in 74 yards and two touchdowns.
I thought Maalik Tucker gave us a little spark there at the end of the second quarter, Kidwell said, noting how much the running game had previously struggled. Hes a junior with Jadyn Miller. Theyve worked hard and deserve a chance to play. (Tucker) is going to see the ball more.
Fostoria 7 12 15 7 41
Elmwood 0 14 0 0 14
FOS Mauricio 36 run (Weimerskirch kick)
ELM Garner 65 run (kick blocked)
FOS Mauricio 25 run (kick blocked)
ELM Garner 45 run (Garner run)
FOS Miller 1 run (run failed)
FOS Mauricio 67 kick return (Weimerskirch kick)
FOS Miller 27 run (Boff run)
FOS Garcia 11 run (Weimerskirch kick)
First Downs 20 6
Rushes-yards 37-234 22-176
Passing Yards 225 (-9)
Comp-Att-Int 19-32-0 6-11-1
Punts-Avg. 2-36.5 7-28
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-95 7-70
RUSHING Fostoria, Tucker 11-81, Miller 14-74, Mauricio 7-65, Garcia 3-8, Boff 1-7. Elmwood, Garner 19-178, Logston 1-1, Fraley 1(-3.
PASSING Fostoria, Garcia 19-32-225-0. Elmwood, Logston, 6-11-(-9)-1.
RECEIVING Fostoria, Mauricio 7-103, Turner 7-60, Weimerskirch 2-18, Anderson 2-16, Diaz 1-18, Hill 1-14. Elmwood Garner 3-(-1), Tienarend 1-3, Descant 2(-2).