COLUMBUS -- The Norfolk Catholic Knights' running back combination of Dylan Kautz and Evan Smith provided a one-two punch that KO'd Columbus Lakeview here Friday night.
Kautz ran 16 times for 196 yards and touchdowns of 27- and 90-yards, while Smith totaled 137 yards on 17 carries with touchdown runs of 4- and 8-yards, as the Knights turned a 13-0 halftime lead into a 34-7 win to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“Obviously, Evan is new so we’re getting to know him better all the time, but I thought he looked better and more comfortable tonight than he did in week one carrying the ball,” Norfolk Catholic coach Jeff Bellar said. “I think he can do some great things for us, and Kautz has got a lot of speed, so if you miss him he’s going to hurt you.”
Smith’s 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter had the Knights up 6-0, after the PAT kick was unsuccessful. His 8-yarder in the second quarter capped a 15-play 92-yard drive--all running plays--that increased Norfolk Catholic’s lead to 13-0, a drive Bellar said “helped us feel a little better about ourselves, and as a result we played much better in the third and fourth quarters.”
“We thought as the game went on we’d use more bodies, and it seemed like that showed up late in the second quarter that we could do that and get some things going,” he said.
But three wasted opportunities in the first half prevented the Knights from putting the game away early. Ball-handling issues interfered with timing in the backfield, missed handoffs, and four fumbles.
After Norfolk Catholic’s defense forced a Lakeview three-and-out on the Vikings’ first possession, four running plays had the Knights first-and-goal on the nine, but faulty ball-handling ended the possession with a missed 30-yard field goal.
Later, after Dylan Zaiser forced a Lakeview fumble which Ethan Piper scooped up and advanced 15 yards to the Vikings’ 15-yard line, the Knights fumbled the ball back to Lakeview during a first-and-goal play from the two.
One possession later, following Smith’s 28-yard punt return to the Vikings’ 16-yard line, another ball-handling issue ended another possession with a missed 37-yard field goal.
“I thought maybe Nate (Brungardt) might be pulling away from the center a little early, but I’m not sure until I watch the film,” Bellar said. “We just didn’t take care of the football very well; it handcuffed us a little bit, and we didn’t open up (offensively) as much.”
“I thought he played much better in the second half; I’ve just got to continue to get him comfortable,” he said. “If he gets a different look sometimes it shakes him up, or if the ball is a little wet--those are things a sophomore thinks about a little too much.”
Bellar wants to enhance the Knights’ passing offense. Brungardt completed four of six pass attempts for 25 yards. Clausen caught three of those for 21 yards.
“I need to do a better job of getting our passing game involved,” he said. “Clausen is a very good receiver, but we have to give him some opportunities.”
Sophomore Riley Carlson took over place-kicking duties from senior Payton Love in the second quarter and converted all four of his PAT tries.
“We’ve been working them both and trying to see who’s the most consistent; Riley hit one, so we just stayed with him,” Bellar said. “I think we’ve got work to do with both of them, but we’re just really striving for consistency.”
Smith and Kautz added 62- and 126-yards to their first half totals with Kautz scoring both of his touchdowns in the third quarter to increase the Knights’ lead to 27-0. Brungardt finished Norfolk Catholic’s scoring at 34 points with a 15-yard tuck-and-run early in the final period.
Lakeview’s starters remained in the game long enough to put a touchdown on the scoreboard against the Knights’ reserves with 3:46 remaining when quarterback Cadge Janssen scored from the nine-yard line and produced the game’s 34-7 final score.
Norfolk Catholic.....6 7 14 7 -- 34
At Columbus Lakeview....0 0 0 7 -- 7
NC: Evan Smith 4 run, (kick failed), 3:36
NC: Smith 8 run, (Riley Carlson kick), :37.
NC: Dylan Kautz 27 run, (Carlson kick), 9:12.
NC: Kautz 90 run, (Carlson kick), 5:28.
NC: Nate Brungardt, (Carlson kick), 8:08.
CL: Cadge Janssen 9 run, (Janssen kick), 3:46.