BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick defense was glad to spend most of the first half on the field Friday against rival Medina because the Blue Devils offense was scoring so quickly.
Four touchdown drives that each lasted 75 seconds or less and a momentum-swinging botched trick play by the Bees changed the non-league game for good, allowing Brunswick to run away with a 36-0 season-opening victory.
The Blue Devils have won the last three games in the series by a combined 99-13.
“Once we got that first touchdown, it was off to the races,” quarterback Steven Ficyk said. “It was an unbelievable feeling out there. It was just a fun night.”
Ficyk, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior who was protected well throughout, was 11-for-16 for 162 yards and touchdown strikes to Jake Yurik, Marc Manocchio and Gary Clift Jr. (3 receptions, 106 yards). Tight end Ethan Engelke slid over to fullback and added two short scores on the ground and Kyle Hotz finished the scoring with a 33-yard field goal.
Brunswick did almost all its damage during a 27-point second quarter. The drives needed three, four, two and four plays, 75, 75, 16 and 76 yards and 42, 40, 37 and 75 seconds to reach the end zone.
It felt like an eternity when the Blue Devils needed 1:54 to march 53 yards for a TD to begin the second half.
“At any given time, any player on our offense can take the ball all the way,” Ficyk said. “It’s a huge weapon to have. Of course we’d like to have drives where you’re pounding out first downs and eating up the clock, but having that (big-play) capability is a huge advantage against teams.”
The Brunswick defense bought the offense enough time to get going.
Leading the charge was undersized linebacker Logan Pratts (5-10, 175), who in the first 19 minutes alone had two tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a big hit while covering a kickoff. End Elliot Laisure and tackle Alex Barty also were all over the field as 56 of Medina’s 120 first-half yards came on three consecutive completions to Kyle Scherer.
The run-first Bees surprised many by attempting to be balanced, but the Brunswick defensive backfield held firm as Medina three-year starter Collin Minor was just 9-for-26 for 67 yards.
“The first game of the season, we knew we had to start off strong,” Pratts said. “We’ve had three practices a day since camp and all of us were prepared for this moment. We were all ready for it.”
Despite the Bees’ overall offensive woes, they strung together enough positives to face third down from the Brunswick 14-yard line while trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter.
Disaster then struck when Minor found Mike Muniak just beyond the line of scrimmage. Muniak attempted to flip a hook-and-lateral to trailing running back Jimmy Daw (17 carries, 46 yards), who had plenty of daylight around end. The pitch went awry, however, and Brunswick nickleback Grant Glatzhofer pounced on it.
On the next play, Ficyk launched a 50-yard bomb that was acrobatically snared by Clift, placing momentum squarely in Brunswick’s corner moments before Engelke bulled in for his first score.
“I don’t know if I want (the play call) back, but it was a pivotal point in the game,” Medina coach Dan Sutherland said. “The play would have been there if we would have executed properly, so I don’t have regrets. I wish we would have executed properly.”
It got worse for Medina less than 90 second later, when center Tommy Bartfai left the shotgun snap short to Minor. Pratts recovered and the Blue Devils scored two plays later when Manocchio outmuscled a defender at the goal line for a 15-yard TD.
Instead of the game being potentially tied with 5 minutes left in the half, Brunswick led 21-0. Clift added the first-half punctuation point when he soared over a defender and juked another on his way to a 46-yard score.
“It was, ‘All right, let’s getting it rolling,”’ Ficyk said. “There was no looking back anymore.”
Even after another blowout victory against Medina, the Blue Devils lamented about going three-and-out on their first two drives. They credited a 74-yard scamper to the 1 by Joe Pinzone that set up Yurik’s 5-yard TD score as the play that got them going.
“We’ve given (Pinzone) a lot of crap for that,” Ficyk quipped.
Brunswick also had an uncharacteristic nine penalties for 85 yards — it has averaged less than 40 yards per game in four-plus seasons under coach Luke Beal — but overall had a good feeling going into next week.
“We just need to come out, especially against a rivalry opponent in the first game, and get a faster start,” Beal said. “Now, the nice thing was we responded.
“Any time you score 30 points and get a shutout, there’s not a lot to complain about.”
- Brunswick donated 25 percent of the 50/50 raffle total ($557) to Alissa Sherman, the wife of late Medina assistant football and baseball coach Dan Sherman, who died suddenly in June.
- The Medina student section tossed chalk into the air — a la Cavaliers superstar LeBron James — as the Bees took the field.
- The Blue Devils have not lost a season opener since 2004. They also have won 14 of the last 16 games against the Bees.
Brunswick 36, Medina 0
MEDINA 0 0 0 0 — 0
BRUNSWICK 0 27 9 0 — 36
B — Jake Yurik 5 pass from Steven Ficyk (Kyle Hotz kick), 11:56.
B — Ethan Engelke 2 run (Hotz kick), 7:06.
B — Marc Manocchio 5 pass from Ficyk (Hotz kick), 5:07.
B — Gary Clift Jr. 46 pass from Ficyk (pass failed), 2:10.
B — Engleke 1 run (kick failed), 10:06.
B — Hotz 33 field goal, 0:55.