TONTOGANY — Elmwood had a pair of touchdowns, while Otsego had a pair of punts through five possessions on Friday.
The Knights were scoreless through one quarter and very little had gone their way in the first 12 minutes.
But Otsego’s offense found the end zone to open the second quarter and its special teams suffocated the Royals in rallying for 29 second-quarter points and a 36-20 Northern Buckeye Conference win.
“They came out and played hard like they always do. They got after it,” Otsego head coach Matt Dzierwa said of Elmwood. “We had a lot of young kids out there tonight because we have a couple injuries — a couple seniors. I think it was kind of a wake-up call for the young kids that, hey, this is a varsity football game and we better step it up.
“And they did.”
Otsego improved to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the NBC. Elmwood fell to 2-5, 0-4.
Dzierwa was forced into a tough scenario to open the second quarter.
After back-to-back penalties — two of Otsego’s 10 in the first half — and a backwards run, Otsego’s first play from scrimmage in the second quarter was a third-and-22.
Coach Dzierwa called his son’s number to get the Knights out of trouble.
On third down, sophomore quarterback Joseph Dzierwa fired a pass to Noah Dzierwa, who then flipped the ball to Trent Leiter en route to a 15-yard gain.
Now a fourth-and-7 from the Elmwood 42, Joseph Dzierwa dropped back to pass again, this time hitting Noah Dzierwa on a curl route along the left sideline. Noah spun off the first defender and ran up the sideline for 24 yards and a first down.
The very next play was a diving one-handed 18-yard touchdown grab from Joseph Dzierwa to Chase Helberg.
Elmwood’s ensuing drive was stopped at a three-and-out before Otsego’s Seth Davies blew through the line and blocked the punt inside the 10 yard line. The ball bounced back and through the end zone for a safety.
A nine-play Otsego drive then stalled due to more penalties, but Elmwood was forced into another quick three-and-out.
Otsego could not be blocked again as Logan Krompak — who blocked both of Elmwood’s point-after attempts in the first quarter — and Ben Gray combined to block another punt.
Joseph Dzierwa found Gray for a 25-yard touchdown just three plays later.
“We got in the end zone, some good things happened, we got a couple turnovers,” coach Dzierwa said. “To capitalize on a turnover is huge, and it’s a huge momentum thing.
“Special teams, we work hard in practice at it. The kids buy into it, they get excited blocking a punt and they got after it.”
With three minutes left in the half, Otsego was forced to punt, but Gray blitzed Elmwood’s return-man came out of a pile with possession at the Royals’ 9.
Trent Leiter — who scored a 26-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter — took the next play nine yards for a touchdown.
“We have to be able to handle success,” Elmwood head coach Greg Bishop said. “We just have to be able to turn that corner where we handle success.
“We shoot ourselves in the foot special teams wise, you give them great field positions, it’s hard to overcome that.”
Otsego, if it hadn’t already, stole all of the momentum to end the half.
Following Leiter’s run, Elmwood’s next drive ended with a Konner Logston interception to Noah Dzierwa — who added two more interceptions in the fourth quarter.
The very next play Noah Dzierwa took a quick screen pass 46 yards for a touchdown and a 29-12 lead.
Michael Gonzalez intercepted another Logston pass on the first play of Elmwood’s ensuing drive.
Logston had the Royals’ offense rolling the first quarter, connecting with Josh Condon on touchdown passes of 31 and 33 yards. Sanford Fraley added Elmwood’s final touchdown on a 16-yard run with less than two minutes to play.
ELM — Condon 31 pass from Logston (kick blocked)
ELM — Condon 33 pass from Logston (kick blocked)
OTS — Helberg 18 pass from J. Dzierwa (Coon kick)
OTS — Safety, Davies blocked punt
OTS — Gray 25 pass from J. Dzierwa (Coon kick)
OTS — Leiter 9 run (kick failed)
OTS — N. Dzierwa 46 pass from J. Dzierwa (Coon kick)
OTS — Leiter 26 run (Coon kick)
ELM — Fraley 16 run (Oliver run)