BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
SOLON – The Fort Madison Bloodhounds were just flat outmanned Friday at top-ranked Solon.
Solon had Fort Madison scrambling from the get-go and, aside from a Hound stop on Solon’s second possession, the Spartans were able to score quick and often and held Fort Madison’s vaunted running game in check the whole night.
Senior Alex Gully who had been leading District 5, Class 3A in rushing was held to 55 yards on 18 carries and that included a 40-yard run in the 2nd half.
Gully also had a 59-yard kick-off return in the first quarter after the Spartans had scored on a 14-yard pass play from Cam Miller to Payton Bandy to open the scoring at 7-0.
Gully mishandled the kick and picked it up on the second bounce and then found an opening down the Hound sideline but was caught from behind at the Spartan 38. Hounds Quarterback Lennon Barker hit Tyler O’Tool for a 4-yard gain on 1st and 10, but on the next snap, the Bloodhounds coughed it up and the Spartans took over.
The Hounds did get a stop on the Spartans and forced Solon to punt, but a 57-yard kick pinned the Hounds at their own 6. Fort Madison went four and out and punted just 25 yards giving Solon the ball at the FM 31. Solon’s Kendrick Harris carried five times in the next series scoring from 5-yards out to make it 14-0.
The Hounds went four and out again after the kickoff to the 31. Barker had three straight incompletions and then punted to the Solon 29 yard line. Miller threw an errant pass and Harris ran for 12 on 2nd and 10 before Miller hooked up with Bandy on a 54-yard touchdown and the Spartans were up 21-0 before the end of the 1st quarter.
The Hounds had all kinds of trouble on the next series with some bad snaps and a false start on 4th and 6 forcing a penalty and then another punt. But the Spartans mishandled the punt and Fort Madison recovered, but went backwards on the next four plays and faced 4th and 40 before getting a punt away to Solon’s 41-yard line. Miller threw an incomplete pass and then Harris broke free for a 41-yard scamper into the endzone to make it 28-0.
On the next set, the Hounds had two incomplete passes and a two-yard carry by Gully forcing a punt which sailed over Barker’s head and the Spartans recovered at the 8. Three plays later the Spartans’ Hunter Kula plunged in from a yard out and the rout was on 34-0. Mille would find AJ Coons down the left side and Solon was up 41-0.
The Spartans would score on an interception before the half to set the score 48-0 at the half and activate the running clock for the entire second half.
The Hounds were also without senior Shance Redd-Donald who didn’t dress for the game due to a back ailment.
Barker gave way to freshman Will Larson in the second half after hurting his throwing hand on a sack in the first half. Barker went back in for a couple of series and then Larson took over.
“Shance was hurt all week and we knew he wasn’t going to be playing today,” Shiffman said. “We had to move forward without him. That’s a good football team. I don’t know if Shance even helps us against these guys. That’s a loaded, stacked football team. I don’t know who really challenges them. I don’t know who scores on them the rest of the year. It was just a buzzsaw.”
Diego Lozano had six carries for 20 yards and Larson had five carries for -11 yards.
Danen Settles led the Hounds on defense with 8 tackles and two assists.
Shiffman said the Hounds just aren’t at the level of Solon just yet, but it’s a program that he wants his squad to take notice of.
“We’re just not there yet,” he said. “That’s a program we strive to be at where our kids are walkin’ and talkin’ the game and eating it up.”
He said the Hounds did some good things in the first quarter but just couldn’t keep up with the athleticism of the Spartans.
“The first quarter we stopped them. They didn’t just come right down and score, we had a couple of big plays in there defensively and got some turnovers late. But this is what makes Mt. Pleasant such an important game for us to have won,” Shiffman said.
“At this point we’re looking for 6-3 and we’re working for a winning season. That’s what we’re gonna work our butts off for and that’s what we’re striving for.”
The Hounds are now 3-3 and return home next week for homecoming against Fairfield.