Solon head coach Kevin Miller. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC PixxBy Richard C. Lewis
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Kendrick Harris fumbled on his first carry. He atoned for it in a big way.
Harris darted and weaved for 158 yards and three touchdowns – all in the first half – to lead Solon to a dominating 42-0 win over Keokuk in a Class 3A, District 5 opener on Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
Harris fumbled on the Spartans’ first play of the game, giving Keokuk the ball at the Solon 31. But the Chiefs (2-1) missed a 48-yard field goal try.
Harris ran wild after that.
On the next possession, the Spartans drove 80 yards on five plays, capped by a 7-yard Harris touchdown run. Harris toted the ball on each play for the Spartans.
“There were huge holes in the line, and afterwards, I threw up, I was so overwhelmed,” said Harris, a junior and the Spartans’ leading rusher.
He added two more scores, a 27-yard run off left tackle to give Solon (2-1) a 21-0 lead and a 6-yard burst up the middle to put Solon up, 35-0, with three minutes left in the second period.
Solon junior Kendrick Harris“It’s always that first drive, I’m jittery and everything,” Harris said. “After that, I get back to normal.”
Solon Coach Kevin Miller didn’t say a word to his running back after the opening fumble. He didn’t need to.
“What I was most pleased about is (Solon quarterback) Blayze (Griffis) took him aside and told him, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be alright. Flush it,’” Miller related. “That’s the type of stuff that as a coach you like to see. You have another player grab him by the shoulder pads and say, ‘Flush it, it’s done, next play, that’s all we can control.’ I was really pleased with that.”
“I was down at first,” Harris said, “but then my coaches and my quarterback brought me up and told me we got a lot more, a lot more, so I just did that, and it showed.”
Solon rung up 42 points and piled up 329 yards of total offense by halftime. It wasn’t too far off the 435 total yards the Spartans had in the previous two games combined.
The Spartans defense held Keokuk to 103 yards for the game. The Chiefs had four turnovers and didn’t get past the Solon 26-yard line all game.
“We always put a premium on playing sound defense,” Miller said. “I was really pleased with the physicality of our defense. We ran to the football, we tackled well in space.”
Griffis completed 9 of 11 balls for 186 yards and two scores and ran for another TD. He called the win a needed bounce back game for the Spartans, who lost last week to Class 1A powerhouse Iowa City Regina, 34-0.
“Last week was obviously a tough loss to a great Regina team, and that focused us a lot,” Griffis said. “It made us have the right mindset, and we practiced with a greater sense of tempo and urgency, and it showed out here tonight.”
Miller, in his 16th season as Spartans coach, decided to change things up before district play began. He said he may be moving toward a no-huddle offense.
“Our practices were too slow in nature,” he said. “We needed to increase the tempo, in everything, from special teams to offensively, defensively, to individual drills. And, really our practices have been more productive as a result of that, and I think it’s paying off, obviously by the way we played tonight.”
First downs 16 4
Rushes-Yards 42-255 23-48
Passing 190 55
Comp-Att-Int 10-12-0 4-16-2
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 2-2
Penalties-Yards 3-25 5-30
Keokuk 0 0 0 0 – 0
Solon 14 28 0 0 – 42
SOL – Kendrick Harris 7 run (Kick failed)
SOL – Blayze Griffis 2 run (Jacob Coons pass from Griffis)
SOL – Harris 27 run (Anthony Bullard kick)
SOL – Payton Bandy 34 pass from Griffis (Bullard kick)
SOL – Harris 6 run (Bullard kick)
SOL – Coons 15 pass from Griffis (Bullard kick)