PIERCE -- With 7:21 left in the second quarter of Norfolk Catholic's 41-14 win over Pierce here Friday, Dylan Kautz had run for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.

But following his 12th carry -- a 20-yard touchdown run that gave Norfolk Catholic a 21-7 lead -- he remained on the ground while his teammates celebrated the touchdown. Then he remained there a few minutes longer.

"It was scary. Dylan is such an exciting player for us, and he's so explosive," Norfolk Catholic coach Jeff Bellar said. "I think he's OK. He rolled his ankle a little bit. Our trainer thought we could have used him, but we were up three touchdowns at halftime."

Kautz didn't return, but Jacob Molacek made it far less noticeable that the sophomore who ran for over 1,000 yards as a freshman spent most of the second half pacing back and forth trying to keep his ankle loose. Molacek ran for 66 yards on nine carries, scoring from 21 yards late in the second quarter to give the Knights a 28-7 lead and from 4 yards out on to push the lead to 35-7 on their first possession of the second half.

"Jake Molacek really did well for us. It almost gave Jake an opportunity to show us some things that maybe we weren't seeing because we've been giving Dylan a lot of carries," Bellar said. "Jake's a very good cutter and kind of a slashing-type runner. He doesn't have Dylan's speed, but he's a good cutter."

Kautz's speed showed up on the first play of the game, when Kautz went 80 yards on a counter play to put Norfolk Catholic ahead 7-0.

Pierce, though, responded quickly. The Bluejays put together a 71-yard drive, tying the game at 7 when Collin Tinker found the corner of the end zone on a 17-yard run with 9:01 left in the first quarter.

After forcing a three-and-out on Norfolk Catholic's next possession, Pierce again reached the red zone. But the Knights tightened up after the Bluejays reached the 5-yard line, and a Pierce field goal sailed wide left.

From then on, Norfolk Catholic -- led by the interior play of sophomore lineman Ethan Piper -- took over and handed the Bluejays their fifth-straight loss to open the season.

"I like my team. I think we're a better team than what the score indicates. I think we're a better team than what our record indicates," Brahmer said. "We've just got breakdowns by one or two guys on each play. The bottom line is I've got to coach them better."

Walker Raabe gave Pierce 153 yards of total offense, completing 9 of 16 passes for 132 yards. Freshman quarterback Dalton Freeman, relieving Raabe in the fourth quarter, gave the Bluejays their longest play from scrimmage with a 45-yard run that set up Brett Tinker's late touchdown.

"We've got good kids -- great character kids," Pierce coach Mark Brahmer said. "We'll just come back to work and see where we can go from here."

Tinker's touchdown followed a 39-yard scoring strike from Myles Vrbka to Jacob Beed that capped the Knights scoring with 1:56 left in the third quarter. Vrbka finished 8 of 11 through the air for 181 yards, connecting with Christian Prim four times for 86 yards.

Norfolk Catholic (3-2) will host unbeaten O'Neill next Friday.

"I told our guys that, offensively, that was a good football team and they weren't going to lay down. I think we played well tonight with the exception of a couple breakdowns," Bellar said. "We have a tough, tough challenge next week. We've just got to get ready and try to be at our best."

Norfolk Catholic (3-2) 7 21 13 0 - 41

Pierce (0-5) 7 0 0 7 - 14

Scoring summary

FIRST QUARTER

NC: Dylan Kautz 80 run (Dylan Cattau kick), 11:49

PIE: Collin Tinker 17 run (Devan Roth kick), 9:01

SECOND QUARTER

NC: Kautz 1 run (Cattau kick), 11:39

NC: Kautz 20 run (Cattau kick), 7:21

NC: Jacob Molacek 21 run (Cattau kick), 1:32

THIRD QUARTER

NC: Molacek 4 run (Cattau kick), 9:10

NC: Jacob Beed 39 pass from Myles Vrbka (Kick failed), 1:56

FOURTH QUARTER

PIE: Brett Tinker 1 run (Roth kick), :14

NC PIE

First downs 20 15

Rushes-yards 37-276 40-152

Passing 8-11-0 10-18-1

Passing yards 181 149

Total offense 457 301

Penalties-yards 4-45 2-15

Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0

Punts-avg. 1-31.0 3-25.0

Individual statistics

RUSHING: (NC) Dylan Kautz 12-144, Payton Love 3-8, Myles Vrbka 1-3, Jacob Molacek 9-66, Jacob Beed 1-5, Ryan Vetter 5-13, Chase Abler 2-3, Dillon Hupp 1-7, Drew Leise 1-18, Justin Keller 2-9. (PIE) Walker Raabe 11-23, Collin Tinker 7-13, Carson Oestreich 5-15, Caleb Sullivan 7-13, Dylan Delka 7-29, Dalton Freeman 2-58, Brett Tinker 1-1.

PASSING: (NC) Vrbka 8-11-0, 181; (PIE) Raabe 9-16-1, 132; Freeman 1-2-0, 17.

RECEIVING: (NC) Christian Prim 4-86, Andy Bettenhausen 1-39, Andrew Fleecs 1-8, Molacek 1-9, Beed 1-39; (PIE) Oestreich 2-27, Sullivan 2-58, Brodey Peters 1-10, C. Tinker 1-6, Brady Simmons 2-17, Jadon Magdanz 1-17./

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.