SOLON– There was plenty of time on the clock and the Crestwood Cadets had put together a drive.
Solon, having built a 21-7 lead in the first half, had just missed a field goal, and Crestwood had taken over on their 20 and marched (aided by a 15-yard Solon late hit) to Solon’s 20.
A touchdown would make it a one-score game with almost 10 minutes left.
Crestwood quarterback Kolter Friedhof went deep twice, looking for receiver Spencer Bohr against Solon’s Chris McNutt (a match-up that worked well on a long hook-up earlier in the game), with no success.
Friedhof had been dumping it off to tight end Ryan Kreitzer all night (seven receptions for 72 yards), so on fourth and 15, he went back to the well. The ball was thrown behind Kreitzer, but he was able to get a hand on it.
He tipped it to a waiting Aaron Shulista, who scampered 32 yards, setting up a short field for the Spartan offense.
After a Rory Siddell touchdown run was negated by a holding penalty (a recurring theme for Solon), Josh Proehl tacked on a field goal for a 24-7 final score.
Just as important, the Spartans had eaten up time.
Solon’s varsity football team started the 2012 postseason Wednesday night with a win hosting Crestwood, and now are slated for a showdown with undefeated 3A No. 1 Decorah Monday night, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in Decorah.
The Spartans played well on both sides of the ball with one exception– penalties.
“We had far too many penalties, we have to shore-up some of the miscues,” noted head coach Kevin Miller. “We can’t afford to have that many penalties versus Decorah.”
A holding penalty stalled a drive to open the second half when Solon had excellent field position at the Crestwood 45.
For the most part, however, the Spartans controlled the game.
“Overall defensively we were very solid,” Miller said. “Aside from a couple of big plays we were sound and very consistent.”
Although the defense didn’t record a sack, it was able to apply pressure to Friedhof, who was 16-32 for 170 passing yards. Logan Linderbaum, Dalton Ferguson, Jordan Wymer and Danny Whitmore took turns chasing Friedhof down in the backfield after the Cadets scored in the first quarter.
“Our coaches made some great adjustments particularly on defense leading into the second half,” Miller noted. “The players did a great job of executing the game plan.”
Solon struck first, scoring as time elapsed in the first quarter on an 11-yard run by Aaron Shulista.
The Cadets responded with a drive of their own, bolstered by a successful fake punt and capped by Friedhof’s 31-yard touchdown scramble to tie the game.
The Spartans answered, fueled by a long run by Wymer to the Crestwood 3. Siddell took it in from there, and Solon had a 14-7 lead with four minutes to go in the first half.
Solon’s defense kicked into gear and special teams forced a short punt, giving the offense the ball at the Crestwood 28. Although one long run was negated by penalty, Siddell found the end zone again with 1:36 left before the half.
“Offensively we did a great job in the first half,” Miller observed. “Unfortunately, penalties negated several drives. We were a bit conservative in the second half, but the objective was to win the game.”
Solon ran the ball 34 times for 303 yards and Siddell completed 6-9 passes for 49 yards, giving the Spartans 352 total. The Cadets ran 64 plays in comparison, half rushing (112), half passing (170).
Siddell and Wymer were the leading rushers for Solon with 106 and 105 respectively. Shulista added 88 yards on seven carries. McNutt and Shulista had two receptions each, while Riley Takes and Wymer each had one. Takes also had an interception to end a fourth-quarter Cadet drive.
McNutt was the led the defense with 11 tackles.