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Spartans deliver Stanton’s first home win at homecoming

Solon downs Vinton-Shellsburg, 28-6

SOLON– Homecoming benefited both the Spartan faithful and Head Coach Lucas Stanton on Friday, Sept. 25, as the Solon varsity football team handed the coach his first home win, 28-6, over the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikings.
“It was definitely nice to get a win at home in front of our fans,” Coach Stanton professed. “I know our kids really wanted to make sure we got back to protecting our home field. We felt we were in control even when we were down 3-0, we didn't panic. Homecoming is always a week of distractions even in the COVID-19 world we are living in right now.
“Yes, it is always special to get a victory on homecoming.”
It was a tentative first quarter for the Spartan fans as both teams set to work sizing one another up, but it was the Vikings who drew first blood with a field goal by Jesse Pladsen with a little over 7:11 aglow atop the scoreboard. It was the only score of the first quarter. Vinton-Shellsburg led the Spartans, 3-0.
The Spartans replied in the second quarter, when quarterback Blake Timmons dashed in for a touchdown following nine plays and a rugged 65 rushing yards as a little over nine minutes remained. Jackson Ryan was responsible for more than half the rushing drive with a 33-yard scamper on a third-and-one play. Solon took the lead, 7-3, following Brent Lumpkin’s successful extra point.
The Vikings appeared to lose a little vigor after the defense gave the Spartans field position, holding Vinton-Shellsburg to a three-and-out. Quarterback Timmons sapped any remaining momentum with a 12-yard dart to the end zone on a first and 10 from the 12-yard line, accentuated by another Lumpkin point after. Solon led, 14-3.
Vinton-Shellsburg attempted to rally, driving down the field, but the Solon defense bowed up and forced the Vikings to settle for a 32-yard Pladsen field goal. Solon led, 14-6, with a little less than 1:30 remaining in the half.
A number of penalties on the ensuing possession had the Spartan Nation on the edge of their seats as the Spartans faced a second and seven from the Viking 31 with roughly 37 seconds to go. Timmons was flushed from the pocket and hit Jackson Ryan for a 31-yard reception and score. Lumpkin split the uprights, delivering Solon a 21-6 lead with 1.7 ticks remaining in the first half.
The final score of the game occurred in the third quarter with 8:01 remaining as Carson Miller reeled in a Timmons 14-yard pass for a score and Lumpkin divided the uprights again for a 28-6 lead.
The defense procured the final score without allowing another touchdown in its third straight contest.
“We were happy with how we stopped the run defensively and ran it offensively,” Coach Stanton summarized. “Vinton is one of the better running teams we face and we were very pleased with how our defense performed. They came up with some really big stops and helped give our offense great field position.”
Timmons was 5-8 for 67 yards passing, delivering two for touchdowns, and rushed with the ball 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Timmons’ targets were Jackson Ryan once for a 31-yard reception, Carson Miller twice for 19 yards and Colton Hoffman twice for 17 yards.
A menagerie of ball handlers carried the pigskin for the Spartans during the game. Junior Hayden Taylor carried the ball 15 times racking up 116 rushing yards, Ryan carried the ball 14 times for 95 yards, junior Tino Longo handled the ball three times for four yards, and junior Kinnick Pusteoska and Carson Miller rushed one time apiece for four yards and a yard, respectively.
The Spartans’ defense limited the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikings to a total of 128 total offensive yards, 69 yards rushing and just 59 yards in the air while granting the Solon offense good field position. Carson Shive recorded 8.5 total tackles, seven solo including one sack and two for loss; Lucas TePoel was credited with 7.5 total tackles including seven solos, one sack and two for loss; Ben Cusick racked up five solo tackles with two sacks and three for loss; Ryan had 3.5 tackles, three of them solo; Jake Quillin, Colton Hoffman Danny Knezevich and Ethan Swan were credited with three solo tackles apiece; Austin Quaintance and Zach Harp had 1.5 apiece, each with a solo, Quaintance’s solo for loss; Lucas Kampman, Logan Sieverding, Erich Karsten and Cayden Knipper all recorded a solo tackle apiece; and Jackson Clevenger, Nash Altman, Josh O’Neil and Josh Olney were credited with a half a sack apiece.
Unfortunately, Homecoming King and lineman Nash Altman exited the game in the third quarter with an apparent ankle injury, watching much of the second half from the trainer’s table.
“I think injuries are part of football,” Coach Stanton tried to explain. “We have some kids, like a lot of teams, who are banged up or are fighting through a few things. Sometimes when you are up a couple scores you keep guys out that are dinged up.”
Coach Stanton maintained a focus on the positive, however.
“I think I say it every week but our o-line and d-line just continues to improve every week which allows for our linebackers, like Lucas TePoel and Carson Shive, to have big games on defense,” Coach Stanton remarked. “On offense, I think all of our skill guys will tell you, it starts up front.”
Stanton said the participation of so many Spartans offensively and defensively in the game was in effort to ensure the longevity of the season.
“We plan to have a long season,” he said. “So yes, some of this is to take some physical wear and tear off some of our guys, but we also think we have a nice stable of backs and wide receivers who can have big nights if needed.”
Ryan recovered a Vinton-Shellsburg fumble for the Spartans in the game and handled two punt returns for a total of 31 yards. Quillin and Taylor handled kick returns, two for 17 yards for Quillin and Taylor one for 20 yards.
Tyler Hancox punted twice for 58 yards, one of which was under heavy pressure from a misdirected snap after which he maintained composure and got the ball away.
The win sets the Spartans up to rekindle their Highway 1 Rivalry with the Mount Vernon Mustangs at Spartan Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.
The importance of the Oct. 7 matchup is not lost on Coach Stanton in his first season. “They run a spread offense,” he expounded. “They are not overly big, but they run well and play very hard. Defensively they run 3-4 multiple-front defense. Again, not a ton of size, but they have some speed and play extremely hard.”
The Mustangs enter the contest 5-0 this season with senior quarterback Brady Ketchum completing 88 of 138 for 1,007 yards and 10 touchdowns passing while rushing for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Mount Vernon has rushed 169 times this season for 809 total yards. The Mustangs do have a statistic of note, intercepting opponents nine times and returning it for 91 total yards.
The Spartans are 30-58 passing for 491 total yards and rushed 218 times for 1,275 yards by comparison, intercepting only one opponent’s pass without a return.
The game has all the makings of a donnybrook as the Spartans have come out on the winning end of the two teams the last 12 meetings, dating back to 2008.
“I think we’ve done a really good job of staying focused,” Stanton was quoted as saying. “Everyone could see in their peripherals we had Mount Vernon next week and they are 5-0, so it adds a little flavor to the rivalry when they are undefeated, and we are coming in on a three-game win streak.”
The Spartans finish the rest of the regular season on Friday, Oct. 9, on the road at Center Point-Urbana High School facing the Stormin’ Pointers at 7:30 p.m. and the playoff matchups commence the following week.
Statistics for the article are courtesy of ia.varsitybound.com on Sept. 28.