SOLON– After a shaky first quarter, Solon kicked it in gear.
At least that’s the way it looked as Marion came to town for a conference game on the gridiron Friday night.
Solon was plagued by penalties in the early going, but soon shook it off and rolled to a 42-0 blanking of the Indians.
The win moves Solon to 6-1 on the year, 4-0 in Class 3A District 6 and headed for a showdown on the road with co-leader Maquoketa this Friday.
The Spartan defense held Marion to 63 total yards for the game, and scoreless for the first time this year.
“Our defense was simply outstanding,” said head coach Kevin Miller. “We controlled the line of scrimmage and our linebackers along with our secondary did a great job of running to the football.”
From the start, things looked troublesome for Marion fans.
The first play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble that referees ruled was recovered by the Indians at their own 2-yard line. A pass interference call helped Marion out of the shadow of its own end zone, one of many flags thrown on the Spartans in the first half; like the one that negated a 51-yard touchdown run by Solon quarterback Jacob Black on Solon’s first offensive set.
“Offensively, we struggled early. We had some untimely penalties that dismantled some big plays,” Miller said. “However, once we settled in, we really put it together and executed much better for three quarters.”
Solon and Marion traded field position for the entire first quarter.
In the second quarter, junior running back Brandon Kramer made his presence known. Kramer provided the Spartans’ first first down with a 17-yard rumble, and subsequently put Solon close to the goal line. Black’s quarterback keeper gave Solon a 6-0 lead as Jackson Rushek’s kick failed.
“Coming into the game we wanted to rush the football effectively and mix in the play action pass,” Miller said. “However, we settled on staying patient with our rushing attack.”
After another snuffed-out Marion possession, Black started rolling up yardage on the ground, culminating with a 6-yard rush up the gut for a 12-0 Solon lead (a 2-point conversion attempt failed).
Meanwhile, Marion’s offense was going nowhere.
Solon held the Indians to 42 yards rushing on 30 carries, a 1.4 yard per-carry average.
Marion quarterback Trevor Hardman was 4-15 for only 21 yards through the air, and he was constantly being pressured by the Spartan defense, especially senior Danny Whitmore. Whitmore had six tackles, including two for a loss. Five Spartans had seven total tackles for loss on the night. Nate Kennedy led the defense with nine tackles; Tyler Shaffer had five tackles and a solo sack; Logan Linderbaum had five tackles and two for a loss. Jacob Gibbs, Tyler Hamann and Seth Phillips each had four tackles.
The defense gave a now-smoking offense the ball back with just over two minutes remaining in the half, and Black promptly connected with senior Nathan Hawkins for a 29-yard touchdown.
Solon took a 19-0 lead into the third quarter, but quickly added to it, as Black, Kramer and Jordan Wymer combined for an all-rushing drive that Wymer completed with a 1-yard run.
On the next Solon possession, the running game continued to pound the ball into Marion territory. This time, Black rolled out, reloaded and tossed a 35-yard touchdown pass over the top of the defense to Shaffer, giving the Spartans a 33-0 lead with five minutes left in the third period. It was Black’s second completed pass, and both were touchdowns.
The final touchdown came in the fourth when Wymer broke a 23-yard run into the Indian end zone. The last score came courtesy of a safety.
“There is no question that we have several playmakers on the offensive end that are capable at any time of taking it the distance but it all starts up from with the offensive line,” Miller said of his team. “I’m very proud of the seniors and how they performed in their last home regular season game. They have done a tremendous job leading our football team.”
The Spartans gained a total of 328 yards– 264 on the ground and 64 through the air. Kramer led the rushing with 108 yards on 14 carries, while Black added 97 on 15 attempts. Wymer had 12 carries for 56 yards.
The Spartans finish with two games on the road– at Maquoketa Friday, and at Benton Community Oct. 25.