Trailing early in the fourth quarter, Omaha Roncalli turned to its leader to put together the go-ahead drive against Elkhorn Mount Michael.
And senior quarterback Jack Dotzler responded, marching his team 76 yards for what proved to be the winning touchdown.
Dotzler threw for three TDs and ran for another Friday night as the Crimson Pride defeated the Knights 34-31. Class B No. 5 Roncalli moved to 4-2 while No. 9 Mount Michael fell to 5-1.
“When you have Jack Dotzler as your quarterback, anything is possible,” Pride coach Tom Kassing said. “It’s like having another coach on the field.”
The Knights had taken a 31-27 lead early in the final period on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jackson Ramold. It was the third time Mount Michael had taken the lead, but the Knights were unable to hold it.
Starting at his own 24, Dotzler moved Roncalli down the field with a combination of passes and scrambles. A 10-yard Dotzler run converted a third-and-7 and a 13-yard toss to Darik Rodgers converted a third-and-9.
Dotzler capped the 12-play march with a 16-yard TD scamper on another third down with 5:56 left.
“Those conversions were huge,” he said. “We have a never-quit mentality and we kept playing with confidence.”
Then it was up to the defense, which held the Knights to two first downs on their final two possessions. Shane Orr was a key defensive player, intercepting a pass to snuff one drive and recording a sack on Mount Michael’s final offensive play.
Orr, who earlier had caught touchdown passes of 35 and 81 yards from Dotzler, said the final sack of Ben deMayo was the highlight of his night.
“I came off the edge and got him,” Orr said. “I think that was the best because it ended the game.”
Dotzler, who also had a 19-yard TD pass to Ryan Fenoglio, threw for 201 yards and rushed for 89. But nothing came easily for the Pride, which had outscored Mount Michael 99-37 in two wins last season.
“I expected a battle tonight,” Kassing said. “They have some good athletes and they are the real deal.”
The Knights got big efforts from quarterback deMayo, split end Cliff Roepke and running back Ramold. DeMayo threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns — all three to Roepke — while Ramold carried 25 times for 83 yards and one score.
“They earned a lot of respect tonight,” Dotzler said. “Those guys came to play.”
Mount Michael entered the game with a 5-0 mark, but those victories had come against teams with a combined record of 7-19.
“That didn’t make any difference to me,” Kassing said. “They’re a very good team and they proved it tonight.”
Both teams return to action next Friday night. Roncalli will host South Sioux City while Mount Michael will host Blair.
Elkhorn Mt. Michael (5-1).....10 14 0 7—31
At Omaha Roncalli (4-2).......14 6 7 7—34
EMM: Cliff Roepke 43 pass from Ben deMayo (Keaton Stec kick)
OR: Shane Orr 81 pass from Jack Dotzler (Austin Schwarz kick)
OR: T.J. Hamilton 1 run (Schwarz kick)
EMM: FG Stec 26
OR: Ryan Fenoglio 19 pass from Dotzler (kick failed)
EMM: Roepke 42 pass from deMayo (Stec kick)
EMM: Roepke 24 pass from deMayo (Stec kick)
OR: Orr 35 pass from Dotzler (Schwarz kick)
EMM: Jackson Ramold 2 run (Stec kick)
OR: Dotzler 16 run (Schwarz kick)
Rushing: EMM, Jackson Ramold 25-83, Ben deMayo 11-(minus-14). OR, T.J. Hamilton 21-105, Jackson Dotzler 15-89, Darik Rodgers 2-1, Thomas Kenney 1-(minus-2).
Passing: deMayo 11-20-2 233. OR, Dotzler 10-22-0 201.
Receiving: EMM, Cliff Roepke 7-174, Calvin Benson 2-27, Ramold 1-8, Eli Crnkovich 1-14. OR, Shane Orr 3-132, Ryan Fenoglio 3-43, Hamilton 3-13, Darik Rodgers 1-13.