Your Prep Sports
MOUNT VERNON – Solon had plenty stacked against it Friday night.
Still working their way back from a season-opening loss, the Spartans were tasked with tussling with an undefeated rival in Mount Vernon and a gunslinging quarterback that got the best of them twice last season, including a playoff game that ended Solon’s season.
As if that were not enough, the Mustangs were playing their last game at historic First Street Field, their home since 1940.
Emotions were high on the Mount Vernon side.
Solon was better.
“It means a lot,” fourth-year Solon Coach Lucas Stanton said after the Spartans overwhelmed Class 3A No. 2 Mount Vernon, 37-20, in the final non-district game for both schools. “It was a long offseason, but I am just so proud of our kids and our coaches. Our coaches put together a great game plan. It is emotional for me.”
The highlight of Solon’s game plan was the stunning decision to run sophomore Conlan Poynton out of the Wildcat formation, something the Spartans had not shown at all in their first three games.
The strategy was a smashing success, to say the least, as Poynton rushed 17 times for 222 yards and posted long touchdown runs of 58, 62 and 66 yards as Solon outscored the Mustangs 34-7 in the second and third quarters.
“This was something new to us,” said Poynton, the younger brother of former Regina prep and current University of Illinois preferred walk-on Ronan Poynton. “Our line blocked beautifully. The gaps were right there and it is kind of hard to mess up that play with a beautiful block. All props to them. I was just the guy running the ball.”
Mount Vernon (3-1) surrendered just 13 total points through its first three double-digit victories, but was upended by the unexpected offensive wrinkle from Solon.
“We had been practicing it for a couple of weeks, been saving it for this game,” junior tailback/defensive end Eddie Johnson said. “Knew it would work. I don’t know if we were planning for long runs. We were just trying to hammer it down them.”
Solon (3-1) had its hands full defensively with Mount Vernon senior quarterback Joey Rhomberg, who accounted for all three of the Mustang touchdowns and threw for 412 yards including eight completions to senior receiver Evan Brase for 281 yards and a 70-yard touchdown.
But after a 28-point second quarter – which included two long Poynton TD runs and a 75-yard fumble return from Johnson off senior linebacker Brayden Moore’s sack and forced fumble – gave the Spartans a 28-14 lead at the break, their defense turned the Mustangs away with three fourth down stops on Mount Vernon’s first four offensive possessions after halftime.
“I think the first word is just resiliency,” Stanton said. “We talk about that all the time on defense. We are going to be in some adverse situations, especially against such a good football team in Mount Vernon. They are a well-oiled machine on offense and we were going to have to come up with some bend but don’t break drives.”
Solon junior quarterback Tyler Bell threw for 141 yards and a touchdown to Nash Kotar before the Spartans flipped to the Wildcat.
After Mount Vernon’s 17-14 regular season victory at Spartan Field last season the opportunity to turn the tables on the Mustangs on the night they close First Street Field after 83 years was especially satisfying for the Spartans.
Mount Vernon will play its home games at its new, on-campus facility going forward.
The win was the third in a row for Solon following the blowout loss at 3A No. 10 Davenport Assumption to open the season.
The Spartans begin district play with a game at Grinnell next week, and they are bringing a full head of steam with them.
“We talked about after that Week 1 game where, quite frankly, I told them I was embarrassed about how we played,” Stanton said. “And that is not who we are and that is not us. We challenged them, plain and simple. We just challenged them that we are better than that and we have got to show that. Really get the kids to believe in themselves and believe in what we are doing. This win, against a top-ranked team, we told them. We want to be a championship team. We feel like we are a championship team and championship teams are going to rise up to championship opportunities and that is what this is. They should be a very confident group.”
First Downs 11 16
Rushes-yards 37-252 24-60
Comp-Att-Int 10-13-0 21-42-0
Passing yards 153 412
Total yards 405 472
Punts-avg. 5-33.6 1-32.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-44 5-45
Solon 0 28 6 3 – 37
Mount Vernon 7 7 0 6 – 20
MV – Evan Brase 25 pass from Joey Rhomberg (Bennett Harp kick)
SOL – Nash Kotar 16 pass from Tyler Bell (Grant Knipper kick)
SOL – Conlan Poynton 58 run (Grant Knipper kick)
SOL – Eddie Johnson 75 fumble return (Grant Knipper kick)
MV – Evan Brase 70 pass from Joey Rhomberg (Bennett Harp kick)
SOL – Conlan Poynton 62 run (Grant Knipper kick)
SOL – Conlan Poynton 66 run (kick failed)
MV – Joey Rhomberg 1 run (kick failed)
SOL – FG Grant Knipper 33
RUSHING – Solon: Tyler Bell 2-(-14), Barret Schade 3-2, Brayden Moore 3-1, Eddie Johnson 10-37, Milo Ashbacker 2-4, Conlan Poynton 17-222. Mount Vernon: Joey Rhomberg 7-(-7), Jackson Hird 16-66, Jonah Williams 1-1.
PASSING – Solon: Tyler Bell 9-12-0 141, Conlan Poynton 1-1-0 12; Mount Vernon: Joey Rhomberg 21-41-0 412, Jase Jaspers 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING – Solon: Eddie Johnson 2-32, Nash Kotar 4-47, Grant Knipper 3-62, Kruse 1-12; Mount Vernon: Evan Brase 8-281, Watson Krob 4-20, Jase Jaspers 4-23, Ethan Wood 4-90, Jackson Hird 1-(-2).