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Spartans’ late-game rally defeats Knights, 17-13

Solon rebounds from 13-3 deficit against Assumption
Lucas TePoel weaves his way through a hole created by the Spartan line during Solon's 17-13 come-from-behind victory over the Davenport Assumption Knights at Spartan Stadium on Friday, Sept. 20.

SOLON– A late-game rally under the lights in Solon on a humid Friday, Sept. 20, catapulted the fourth-place ranked Spartans (3-0) to a 17-13 triumph over the Davenport Assumption Knights (2-1) and moved them to 4-0 for the season.
The win also answered the question whispered quietly this season if the Spartans could play back from a deficit and win after outscoring their opponents 127-14 thus far in the season.
“It certainly was a close game,” Solon Head Coach Kevin Miller commented. “Coming in, we expected this to be a stiff test and it was. Assumption was simply better than us in the first half.”
The Knights executed at a high level and brought it physically against the Spartans, he added.
“I wasn't surprised at all with how they came out and got after us,” Miller said. “We lacked offensive execution and defensively we lacked discipline. We were very fortunate to come out on top.”
The Knights did take it to the Spartans in the first half. Solon went quickly three and out on its first offensive drive and within three minutes the Knights screen passed their way to claim a 7-0 lead on a one-yard dash by Nate Schlichting into the end zone, Franz Sirna was responsible for the extra point.
Solon’s defense turned Assumption away on their next drive as the Knights marched to within five yards of a strike, only to have Spartan senior Jax Flynn stymie the drive by stepping in front of a pass in the endzone with 2:52 remaining in the first quarter.
The Spartans ended up punting the ball to Assumption, with about 1:30 remaining, unable to overcome a false start penalty on their next possession. And the opening quarter ended with the Spartans in unfamiliar territory this season, trailing 7-0.
The second quarter opened with the Knights backed up near their own goal, facing a first and 10 on the eight-yard line.
Solon’s defense stopped the Knights’ drive, and Cael O’Neill put the Spartans on the board, 8:40 glowing atop the scoreboard, closing the gap to 7-3 with a field goal from 24 yards out.
The Spartans were held scoreless for the rest of the half. But big defensive plays, like Michael Broghammer bringing the hammer, with about six minutes remaining, and blocking a Knights punt to give Solon field position on the 36-yard-line, kept the Spartans threatening, albeit unable to deliver.
The Knights, too, struggled but found the end zone before the half, with just 24 ticks remaining, yet were unable to convert the extra point to only command a 13-3 lead approaching the half.
The Knights sent the Spartans to the locker room to contemplate a last-second sack of Solon quarterback Cam Miller on the last play before halftime trailing, 13-3.
“Defensively they had a great game plan and executed at a high level,” Coach Miller reflected. “Moreover, they came out and got after us physically, it took us a couple of quarters to get accustomed to the style of play. Our staff has stressed the importance of playing with more discipline and being more detailed in every phase of the game. We expect a lot out of players and currently we're struggling to do the little things on a consistent basis.”
Miller said his coaching staff made some great adjustments, especially on defense. “The second half we played much harder and executed better in all aspects.”
Davenport Assumption was done scoring for the evening but the Spartan offense needed to rally and needed a kick-start in the momentum department. Call to arms playmaker Flynn, who recovered a fumble to give Solon the ball on their 22-yardline. Quarterback Miller went to work with the offense and put together six plays that left the Spartans facing a third-and-12. Jace Andregg wrapped his arms around a loft by Miller for 14 yards to score and O’Neill worked his magic to close the Spartans to within three, trailing 13-10 at the end of the third quarter.
The Solon Spartans had 12 minutes to prove they could complete the comeback, and the Knights possessed the ball to start the fourth quarter.
Solon stopped the Knights, but during the ensuing possession, Cam Miller was intercepted by Assumption’s Seth Adrian and a penalty on the play had everyone holding their breath while the stripes discussed and delivered a “No penalty on the play” heartbreaker.
The Knights took over with a little more than 7:40 remaining in the game.
The Solon momentum received an infusion, once again courtesy of the Spartan defense. A big hit by senior Nolan Pattison squirted the ball out, to bounce around the turf a bit, before being scooped up by senior Sully Steen giving the Spartans a first-and-10 with a little over 7:30 remaining in the game.
But would it be too much time?
The Spartans struggled with penalties on the next series, gobbling up time, and, with 4:43 remaining in the game, Solon took its first lead of the game as Andregg punched through from the one-yard-line and O’Neill split the uprights, 17-13.
Friday, Sept. 20, became Jax Flynn night in Solon. As the Knights seemed on the precipice of defeating the Spartans from the 30-yard line and 51.2 seconds glowed from the end zone, Flynn dropped back and stepped in front of Tyler Kulhanek’s pass to steal the win.
Several knees later and the Spartans proved they could deliver when backed against the wall, sending the Knights home with their second loss of the season.
Miller pointed out perseverance was a benchmark of the team’s comeback performance.
“The first half we had multiple opportunities to score but failed to execute,” he said. “The momentum shifted when we scored our first touchdown after capitalizing on a fumble recovery.”
The Spartans have outscored opponents 144-27 this season.
Solon’s defense held Assumption quarterback Kulhanek to 13-25 completions and 160 passing yards, intercepting him twice. The Knights’ rushing offense was held to just 128 total yards and two touchdowns.
Flynn was responsible for three solo tackles, 12 tackle assists, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Andregg pulled down three solo tackles and five assists, rushed four times but was credited for –8 yards with one 1-yard rushing touchdown, and pulled in three receptions for 17 total yards and one 14-yard touchdown.
“Jace (Andregg) really stepped up in the second half on both sides of the ball,” Coach Miller commented. “Also, Jax Flynn had two key interceptions at crucial moments that certainly were impactful in the outcome of the game.”
Trey Stebral wrapped up three solo tackles and two assists while punting three times for 108 yards for the Spartans, his longest 45 yards. Carson Shive wrestled two solo tackles and 14 tackles assists; Bo Janssen recorded two tackles and three assists; A.J. Coons pulled down a solo tackle and assisted on six, and accumulated 83 yards on four receptions, returning a kick off for four yards, and returning a punt for three yards; Thomas Brandt collected a solo tackle and five assists; Pattison had one solo tackle for loss and assisted on two tackles; Seamus Poynton assisted on four tackles, had a kick-off return for 42 yards, returned two punts for 34 yards and rushed nine times for 58 yards; Broghammer assisted on three tackles; Lucas TePoel assisted on two tackles and returned a kick-off 19 yards; and Nathan Altman and Hayes Diersen each assisted on a tackle. Sully Steen recovered a fumble,
Cole Arduser pulled in two receptions for 32 total yards.
Cam Miller went 9-17 passing for 132 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted once. He rushed 17 times only amassing six total yards while recording a solo tackle and two assists. Miller also punted twice for 73 total yards with the longest traveling 36.
Coach Miller was plagued following the game by a rumor unacceptable language may have been used on the field of play and addressed it by assuring the Spartan faithful the team would improve.
“We have much room for improvement and it starts with me as the Head Coach,” Coach Miller assured. “I have to demand more from myself and lead by example. This game was valuable and served as a real learning tool for us moving forward.”
The Spartans face the Fort Madison Bloodhounds (3-1) at Spartan Stadium on Friday, Sept. 27, with kick off at 7:30 p.m. The Bloodhounds enter the contest fresh off a 28-6 triumph over Burlington.
“Fort Madison is improved but we are strictly focused on getting better,” Coach Miller warned.
On Friday, Oct. 4, the Spartans visit Washington and Case Field to face the Demons (4-0) for a match up at 7:30 p.m. A trip to Mount Pleasant follows on Friday, Oct. 11, for a 7:30 p.m. kick off at Mount Pleasant’s Mapleleaf Complex. Solon’s last regular season home game is Friday, Oct. 18, at Spartan Stadium and the regular season final game is Friday, Oct. 25, on the road at Fairfield, both games have a 7:30 p.m. kick off.
Statistics courtesy of Quickstatsiowa.com, dated Sept. 22.