WAHOO, Neb. — Pierce never allowed Wahoo’s high-powered offense to get going Tuesday in the Class C-1 quarterfinals.
The Bluejay offense, meanwhile, rolled up 410 yards on the ground as Pierce methodically pulled away for a 35-7 win.
Pierce (10-1) finished the game with 479 total yards while holding Wahoo (9-2) to 152. Pierce put the clamps on Wahoo senior running back Tyler Kavan, who entered the game with 2,048 yards rushing, as he finished with 30 yards on 13 carries — his longest carry of the night was 5 yards.
“All in all, I was pleased with our offense, but to hold the Kavan kid under wraps — he’s probably one of the most talented backs in the state — our defense did a tremendous job,” Pierce coach Mark Brahmer said. “Our kids played fundamentally sound.”
The victory sets up a rematch between Pierce and Norfolk Catholic in the semifinals. Pierce defeated Norfolk Catholic 20-19 on Oct. 12, which snapped the Knights’ 32-game winning streak.
“That’s the greatest game to play in,” Pierce senior Nate Meier said. “To be part of that rivalry is amazing. I love that game.”
Meier did his part Tuesday as Pierce’s top three running backs — Meier, Dillon Ronspies and Trent Spieker — combined for 325 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’re fortunate to have three backs that are strong kids, fast kids and they run a little surly,” Brahmer said. “Up front, I was very pleased with our play.”
Meier gave Pierce a 7-0 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, but Wahoo tied it midway through the second quarter with its special teams. With Pierce punting from its 14, Kavan blocked the punt and pounced on the ball as it rolled in the end zone to energize the Warriors.
But momentum went right back to Pierce on the ensuing possession. After Meier returned the kickoff 37 yards, the Bluejays drove 48 yards in nine plays to take the lead for good with 2:59 left in the first half. Meier capped that drive with a 5-yard run.
Pierce continued to wear down Wahoo on the opening possession of the third quarter. Pierce drove 67 yards in 15 plays, taking 8 minutes, 32 seconds off the clock. The Bluejays converted two fourth downs on the drive, including Ronspies’ 5-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-2.
“Coach always preaches that if we can get a 10- or 15-play drive, it will take away our opponent’s will,” Meier said. “You just have to keep pounding and pounding and you’ll wear them down.”
Through three quarters, Pierce had run 45 plays from scrimmage compared with 21 for Wahoo. At that point, the Warriors, who had scored 40 or more points in all nine of their wins this season, had managed just 77 total yards and four first downs.
Pierce finished off Wahoo with two long runs from Spieker and Ronspies right up the middle early in the fourth quarter.
Now Pierce can turn its attention to Norfolk Catholic and try to hand the Knights their second loss in the past three seasons.
“We were fortunate enough to come out on top in the regular season,” Brahmer said. “We’re going to have to play well. There’s a reason they’ve won 36 of their last 37.”
Pierce (10-1) ................. 7 7 7 14—35
Wahoo (9-2) ................. 0 7 0 0—7
P: Nate Meier 1 run (Lucas Osborn kick)
W: Tyler Kavan blocked punt recovery in end zone (Seth Lindgren kick)
P: Meier 5 run (Osborn kick)
P: Dillon Ronspies 5 run (Osborn kick)
P: Trent Spieker 81 run (Osborn kick)
P: Ronspies 72 run (Osborn kick)
RUSHING: P: Nate Meier 24-114, Trent Spieker 9-113, Dillon Ronspies 6-98, Collin Freeman 4-47, Lane Rohrich 7-33, Nate Murray 4-7, Taggart Bailey 1-(minus 2); W: Jonathan Abbott 13-74, Tyler Kavan 13-30, Josh Langemeier 2-(minus 1).
PASSING: P: Rohrich 3-4-0 69; W: Abbott 4-8-0 49.
RECEIVING: P: Spieker 3-69; W: Kavan 2-29, Jacob Moline 1-13, Preston Raymond 1-7.
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