Grand Island Northwest Vikings vs Omaha Roncalli Lions

Northwest's Rans Sanders sprints down the sidelines in a Class B state playoff game Friday at Viking Field.

Northwest’s defense couldn’t find any way to slow down Jack Dotzler.

The Omaha Roncalli quarterback followed up on last week’s 11-man playoff record-setting performance in passing yards and touchdowns in style Friday in the Class B quarterfinals against No. 4-rated Northwest.

Dotzler went 22-for-32 for 377 yards with three touchdowns and one interception to lead the No. 5 Crimson Pride to a commanding 41-17 victory.

“I think our defense played really well in the beginning,” Roncalli coach Tom Kassing said. “That helped our kids believe. And our offense clicked on all cylinders tonight, and that was the difference.”

Only one of the Crimson Pride’s 72 plays gained more than 22 yards – a screen pass that Darik Rodgers transformed into a 48-yard output.

But Omaha Roncalli (9-2) kept moving the chains and amassed 28 first downs.

“There were a couple of times that I was in doubt, but our offense is very dynamic,” Kassing said. “We can just keep driving down the field. That’s great.

“Earlier in the season, we were a big-play offense. Now we’re starting to click on all cylinders.”

Dotzler connected with tight end Ryan Fenoglio for an 18-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Pride the lead for good with 4:54 left in the first quarter.

“First quarter we just had terrible field position and couldn’t get our feet underneath us offensively, and they moved the ball,” Northwest coach Kevin Stein said. “Their quarterback dropped some dimes. He put that ball on the money, and they caught the ball excellent.”

Northwest answered with a 21-yard Parker Janky field goal with 59 seconds remaining in the first, but that was a disappointment for the Vikings after having the ball first-and-goal at the 1.

But quarterback Rans Sanders was tackled for a 4-yard loss on first down, and Northwest couldn’t recover.

That missed opportunity haunted the Vikings (9-2).

“It was huge,” Stein said. “If you think of that field goal at halftime instead of 20-14 as opposed to 20-10, that was really big. You’ve got to convert. We just made a mistake in the backfield.”

Roncalli went up 20-3 in the second quarter after Dotzler and Fenoglio again connected, this time for a 17-yard score. Rodgers capped off the next drive with a 1-yard plunge.

Northwest pulled within 20-10 when Sanders scored on a 2-yard run with 3:37 to go.

But the Crimson Pride took momentum into the locker room. The teams traded the first turnovers of the game over the final 48 seconds of the half, and that allowed Dotzler to tack on a 15-yard touchdown run with 12 seconds remaining.

“Then second quarter we kind of get our groove going a little bit and played OK but gave up big third-down conversions and broke some assignments,” Stein said.

Northwest never got its balanced offense going that propelled it to success during the season. Sanders was 11-for-34 passing for 175 yards and at one point the Vikings had 11 straight incompletions.

Kassing said the Crimson Pride’s linemen came out with a huge performance.

“Their physicality and size was a concern,” he said. “I thought Nolan Gorczyca and Christian Anderson on the line played very well tonight.

“Jack Dotzler obviously did what he does, and our receiving corps did too. Shane Orr broke the Class B state record for the most receiving touchdowns. That was big.”

Although obviously disappointed about the season ending, Stein said the Vikings should be proud of what they accomplished.

“I think our kids are in a good place right now,” he said. “I think they feel good about themselves. I would like to play them again because we didn’t play our best ball.

“But they deserve to win that game. Unfortunately, in playoff football, you don’t get do-overs. Our kids played hard. There was never a lack of effort, and there was never a lack of discipline.”

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