Solon Defense Shuts Down Demons
Solon celebrates a 36-15 win over Washington on Friday. Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
WASHINGTON – Trailing 15-0 on the road against the fourth-ranked team in the state Solon was in drastic need of a change on Friday night.
The Spartans made a big one and it had nothing to do with X’s and O’s and everything to do with attitude.
“Defensive wise we’d had enough,” Solon senior Trevor Nelson said. “We told ourselves that’s it, we are going to change our mindset and there is nothing else that is going to happen.”
The change in mindset turned into a change in outcome.
Solon (3-1) rallied from a 15-point, first-half deficit with 36 unanswered points in a 36-15 win over Class 3A fourth-ranked Washington (3-1) at Case Field.
The Spartans held Washington scoreless over the final 31 minutes on Friday to improve to 2-0 in district play and take control of the District 5 race.
“I’m most proud of the way we responded to being down 15-0,” Solon coach Kevin Miller said. “Two weeks ago we got down like that and we just kind of folded and we stopped battling and tonight that wasn’t the case.”
Tyler Linderbaum and Spencer Wegmann returned interceptions for touchdowns on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter as Solon scored 22 points in less than three minutes.
Solon forced seven Washington turnovers on Friday, including three in the decisive fourth quarter.
“We kind of struggled at the beginning and got down 15-0 and knew we had to change something,” Linderbaum said. “We just started running to the ball and had a little more hustle and started to make plays.
Washington took advantage of a pair of Solon turnovers to build it’s 15-0 lead.
The Demons got a break when Solon’s Grant Goldsberry picked off a Ryan Reighard pass but fumbled the ball during the return.
Washington recovered and marched 54 yards in nine plays, taking a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Reighard to Bryce Sinn.
The Demons took advantage of another Solon turnover that resulted in a short field covering 35 yards in five plays following a Blayze Griffis interception.
A 23-yard touchdown run by Reighard put Washington up 15-0 with 7:35 left in the first half.
That would be all the scoring Washington would get.
“We just told ourselves that we can’t get down,” Solon senior Jacob Coons said. “We know that they are a good team but we just have to keep doing what we do and working on our game and that’s what we did.”
Solon got back into the game when it got its own break following a turnover.
Washington muffed a Solon punt and Goldsberry scooped it up at the Demon 21 yard line.
Three plays later Blayze Griffis found Nelson for a 16-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-5 play to cut the lead to 15-6.
“That touchdown was absolutely huge,” Nelson said. “I think that was a huge momentum swing I don’t know what would have happened in the game if we didn’t get that one.”
The Solon defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Washington possession and Solon quickly marched 39 yards in five plays, cutting the lead to 15-14 when Nelson snagged a 20-yard touchdown pass from Griffis.
Griffis rolled to his right, bought some time then fired across his body to Nelson who made the grab at the 5-yard line.
The touchdown drive took 75 seconds and gave Solon the momentum at the half.
“That changed the whole outcome of the game,” Coons said. “We felt like we had the momentum going into the last half of the game and I think that’s sort of what swung the game.”
The second half was all Spartans.
Solon allowed just two first downs in a scoreless third quarter and took its first lead of the game when Kendrick Harris scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter.
The touchdown run by Harris capped an eight-play, 45-yard drive and the two-point conversion pass to Nelson put Solon up 22-15.
“I’m just proud of how physical our kids played,” Miller said. “I thought we played real hard and real physical and as a coach that’s all you can ask is that your kids come out they execute the game plan and they did it in a manner that was very physical in nature and from a coaches’ standpoint that’s very gratifying.”
Playing with a lead the Solon defense put the game away.
Washington marched to the Solon 28 yard line with under nine minutes to play when Linderbaum turned in the play of the game.
On 3rd-and-10 the 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior defensive tackle snagged a Reighard screen pass, broke two tackles and rumbled 70 yards for a touchdown.
“It’s a little hard getting down early, especially them being a ranked team but we just knew we had to keep our heads up and keep fighting back,” Linderbaum said. “I think we did that.”
Wegmann put the finishing touches on the win when he stepped in front of a Reighard pass and returned it 28 yards for a score on the ensuing Washington play.
Solon held a Washington offense that entered the game averaging 534 total yards and 46 points per game to 291 yards.
“We didn’t try to change much we just tried to go out and play as hard as we could,” Coons said. “We tried to hit hard and run to the football. That’s what we do we just tried to get 11 guys to the football.”
After starting 2-of-5 with a pair of interceptions, Griffis completed eight of his final nine passes while throwing for 106 yards and two scores.
Reighard ran for 131 yards to lead Washington but needed 34 carries to get there.
“We knew that he was the guy that we really had to focus on and I think we did a great job,” Miller said. “We played assignment football and the kids just executed the game plan and they did it in a physical nature.”
First Downs 10 15
Rushes-Yards 29-61 45-209
Passing Yards 106 82
Total Yards 167 291
Comp-Att-Int 9-13-2 12-21-3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 5-4
Penalties-Yards 1-10 8-65
olon 0 14 0 22 – 36
Washington 7 8 0 0 – 15
WASH – Bryce Sinn 12 pass from Ryan Reighard (Logan Escher kick)
WASH – Reighard 23 run (Reighard run)
SOL – Trevor Nelson 16 pass from Blayze Griffis (Pass failed)
SOL – Nelson 20 pass from Griffis (Nelson pass from Griffis)
SOL – Kendrick Harris 1 run (Nelson pass from Griffis)
SOL – Tyler Linderbaum 70 interception return (Anthony Bullard kick)
SOL – Spencer Wegmann 28 interception return (Bullard kick)
Rushing – SOL: Kendrick Harris 23-54, Blayze Griffis 5-9, Jacob Coons 1-(-2). WASH: Ryan Reighard 34-131, Jack Redlinger 9-46, Tristin Westphal-Edwards 2-32.
Passing – SOL: Blayze Griffis 9-13-2 106. WASH: Ryan Reighard 12-21-3 82.
Receiving – SOL: Trevor Nelson 3-40, Jacob Coons 3-36, Payton Bandy 1-20, Kendrick Harris 2-10. WASH: Bryce Sinn 3-36, Jaivonn Willis 2-21, Jack Redlinger 4-15, Dalton Myers 2-9, Tristin Westphal-Edwards 1-1.