By SHANNON DOVE
Rockets fly, but it was the Redmen who dominated the air on Friday night.
Skyler Garcia tossed five touchdown passes, including three to Jordan Diaz, to propel Fostoria High School to a 35-18 victory over Oak Harbor at Memorial Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
Garcia compiled a whopping 404 yards on 25-of-44 passing with five touchdowns and one interception. Diaz and Devin Mauricio were his favorite targets of the night, as Diaz caught five passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns and Mauricio had 105 yards on five catches with a touchdown.
In addition to the sustained aerial attack, the Redmen converted three of seven fourth-down situations, including a 26-yard pass to Mauricio on fourth-and-6 from the Oak Harbor 36-yard line that set up a touchdown two plays later, and a fourth-and-10 from the Oak Harbor 11-yard line with a scoring pass from Garcia to Diaz late in the third quarter.
Fostoria coach Derek Kidwell credited Garcia’s leadership and his team’s trust in one another to succeed in such pressure situations.
“I thought we were better tonight if our offense was on the field and our defense wasn’t, so I was going to go for that on fourth down and luckily for us, it (sometimes) worked out for us,” Kidwell said.
The Redmen set the tone early, keeping the Rockets out of the end zone on the first drive of the game. After Oak Harbor started with good field position at the Fostoria 46 yard line, the Redmen halted the drive at their own 2 as the Rockets surrendered the ball on downs. Garcia and the offense took over, completing a 98-yard drive in 10 plays with Garcia tossing an eight-yard scoring pass to Mauricio.
“You’ve got to give credit to the Fostoria players and their staff. Their kids made a lot of plays and we didn’t,” Oak Harbor coach Mike May said.
“They got up on us early and got us back on our heels. We didn’t get pressure on the quarterback, which we were hoping to, and their quarterback made a ton of plays and receivers made a ton of plays.”
Early in the second quarter, Rockets kicker Tate Smith converted a 28-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 7-3. Each team then added a touchdown before the end of the first half. Garcia hit Diaz with the receiver’s first scoring catch of the night, a 43-yard bomb that extended the lead to 14-3 with 3:13 left in the half. Oak Harbor answered quickly, as quarterback Jac Alexander found Tyler May with a 40-yard scoring pass at the 1:42 mark.
The Redmen added two scores in the third quarter, as Garcia hit Boff and Diaz with touchdown passes of 5 and 11 yards, respectively, to extend the lead to 28-10 at the end of the quarter.
Alexander broke through the Redmen defense for a 60-yard run on first and 10 at the Rockets 4 to spark a 96-yard scoring drive. Alexander completed the march with a four-yard run up the middle on third and goal, cutting the Fostoria lead 28-18.
Fostoria added a touchdown as Diaz pulled down a 20-yard pass from Garcia at 7:16 to complete a 53-yard drive in five plays over a span of 1:33.
Kicker Weston Weimerskirch hit on all five of his extra point attempts for the Redmen.
“Sky’s been with us for four years so he knows this offense in and out,” Kidwell said. “We’ve got seven senior receivers. They know this offense in and out and it allows us to adjust on the field. We can stand on the sideline and see something and we can communicate it to them, and we can do it because we’re all on the same page.”
Kidwell was pleased with his team’s passing game, but he expects to utilize the running game far more than his did against Oak Harbor.
“We came into the game knowing we were going to throw the ball more than we were going to run the ball because we thought our quarterback and our receivers were our advantage. We thought their secondary was their weakness and we exploited that some tonight. But I don’t want to be that pass-heavy for the next nine games.”
Oak Harbor 0 10 0 8 — 18
Fostoria 7 7 14 7 — 35
FHS — Mauricio 8 pass from Garcia (Weimerskirch kick)
OH — T. Smith 28 field goal
FHS — J. Diaz 43 pass from Garcia (Weimerskirch kick)
OH — T. May 40 pass from Alexander (T. Smith kick)
FHS — Boff 5 pass from Garcia (Weimerskirch kick)
FHS — J. Diaz 11 pass from Garcia (Weimerskirch kick)
OH — Alexander 4 run (Elmes pass from Alexander)
FHS — J. Diaz 20 pass from Garcia (Weimerskirch kick)