IOWA CITY– The end of the first half summed it up for Solon.
Down 14-3, an interception stalled a potential drive for the Spartans, and Iowa City Regina was able to rip off large chunks of real estate in the closing two minutes of the first half, capping it off with a touchdown.
Solon trailed the Regals, 21-3.
Regina had scored twice in the first quarter, first with a short field after the opening kick-off, and immediately after a Solon field goal on a 70-yard run. The second quarter went scoreless until the final minute; Solon’s defense had stopped Regina drives and the offense had been able to move the ball, but unable to finish.
That wasn’t enough, and in a match-up of last year’s champions, the Regals made it two in a row against Solon, 35-9, Friday night in Iowa City.
Regina ended Solon’s 42-game winning streak in 2010, but the Spartans regrouped and ran the table on the rest of their freshman 3A season, taking the 3A title in November.
But Friday’s heavyweight bout was not a thriller like last year. Unless you were a Regina fan.
Take away the big gains, and the Spartans didn’t play that badly in the first half. It could’ve been a closer game.
And they responded well in the third quarter.
The Spartans started from their own 24-yard-line and put together a sustained drive, culminating with a fourth and two on the Regina 5.
J.J. Hanus had completed two passes to Rory Siddell and scampered for a big gain to put Solon in scoring position. But two runs netted nothing, and coach Kevin Miller called a time-out.
On the ensuing play, Hanus rolled out, pulled up and shoveled the ball to Cody Fritz in the end zone for a touchdown.
The 2-point attempt failed on a bobbled snap, but Solon had come out swinging and narrowed the deficit to 21-9.
Regina took its first possession into Spartan territory with a long drive, but Solon forced Regina into a missed field goal attempt. But it chewed away a lot of clock, and the Solon offense was unable to mount another drive.
Regina reeled off 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and put the game away for good.
Solon’s defense gave up almost 400 yards to the Regals, 300 of them on the ground. Regina senior Jacob Vollstedt racked up 156 yards on 15 carries.
Cody Fritz led the Spartan defense with seven tackles, three of them solo, while Austin Dahl had five unassisted tackles. Jay Pike had a fumble recovery.
Offensively, Solon picked up 163 yards on 45 rushing attempts and 84 yards in the air for 247 total yards on the night. Quarterback J.J. Hanus continued to lead the Spartan attack, going 10-16 in the air (one touchdown, one interception) and gaining 73 yards on the ground as the team’s leading rusher. Fritz, Rory Siddell and Colton Dahl each had three receptions.
Solon brings it back home Friday for a Homecoming date with the Benton Community Bobcats.