SOLON– Over 3,000 fans crowded into Spartan Stadium for the football opener versus the Mount Vernon Mustangs Friday night.
The visitors got the first score on the new field on a Logan Walker touchdown pass, but the Spartans prevailed for the first win, 21-11.
Solon couldn’t convert in the first quarter. Quarterback Rory Siddell faked one punt to get a first down and later booted a 48-yard punt to pin the Mustangs on their own 1-yard line. Mount Vernon, hemmed in for three downs, punted its way out of the back of the end zone to the 23-yard line, but the Spartans couldn’t take advantage of the great field position and missed a field goal.
“We started a bit sluggish,” observed Solon head coach Kevin Miller. “We didn’t execute very well in the first half, we left some potential big plays on the field.”
In the second quarter, the Spartans found a groove and ground out their first score with four minutes remaining on a Tim Lance 5-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion to tie the game failed, and Mount Vernon kicked a field goal before the half to take an 11-6 lead.
Solon found its offense and the end zone twice more in the second half while holding the Mustangs scoreless.
Nate Kennedy had a 4-yard touchdown run and Aaron Shulista scored the two-point conversion to go up 14-11.
“In the second half, I was pleased with how we asserted ourselves on both sides of the football,” Miller said. “We were much more physical in the second half and overall we executed much better. There was a great deal of improvement from the first half to the second.”
Siddell had long passes to Nathan Hawkins but also had a big 25-yard touchdown on one of many quarterback keepers to give Solon its winning margin.
Siddell ended the night 6-10 for 87 yards, 70 of them to Hawkins, the night’s leading receiver. Siddell also led the ground game, collecting 114 yards on 18 carries. Aaron Shulista had 74 yards on 10 carries.
Overall, Solon amassed 357 yards on offense, 270 of them on the ground, while allowing Mount Vernon 208 yards total.
“Our defense didn’t allow a first down in the second half until two minutes left in the half,” Miller commented. Jordan Wymer led the team with 10 tackles, while Austin Holub accounted for nine. Wymer, Holub and Logan Linderbaum each had three solo tackles. One of Linderbaum’s was a sack of the Mustang quarterback.