BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
SOLON – Head Coach Derek Doherty said the Bloodhounds took a back seat in the first half to one of the state’s best football programs.
But out of the lockerroom, the Hounds woke up to make a respectable third period stopping a running clock, before Solon capped a lopsided 45-7 Class 3A District 6 win when Seamus Poynton hauled in a screen pass from Cam Miller and rumbled 67 yards for the game’s final score.
The Bloodhounds went into the locker room down 38-0 after Miller found AJ Coons in the back of the endzone. The Spartans were leading 32-0 at the time and had just brought a punt back to the Hound 36. After calling a timeout, Solon took the first snap, Miller rolled slightly right and fired a bullet to Coons streaking down the right sideline into the endzone.
With predicted rains leaving Solon alone, Doherty said the coaching staff challenged the Hounds to not lay down and come out in the second half and compete.
“We just told them our frustration wasn’t in the scoreboard or anything like that. It was them taking a backseat on not competing,” Doherty said.
“We knew this was an extremely good football team. They were going to be physical, and we came in and took a back seat right away. The two things we preach, attitude and effort, they didn’t bring in the first half.
“We rattled their cages maybe a little bit at halftime and challenged them to bring it. And they did a nice job in the second half.”
On the Hounds first possession of the 3rd quarter, they went 63 yards in eight plays. On 1st and 10 at the Hound 40, FMHS quarterback Will Larson, slipped through the line on a read option and gained five yards before coughing the ball up in front of him, but covered it himself for another 3 yards.
After an incomplete pass to Brock Calif, and a Diego Lozano run for nil, Larson took the snap and rolled right looking for options. With a Solon lineman hanging on his jersey, Larson floated the ball behind the secondary where Parker Denning was waiting all alone and raced another 20 yards into the endzone. It was Denning’s third touchdown reception in the last two weeks.
The Hounds then kicked off and on the Spartans’ 2nd and 10, Miller hit Jace Andregg in the right seam, but a hit from behind by Larson jarred the ball loose and Lozano covered it up, giving the ball back to Fort Madison at their own 34.
Larson would hook up with Michael Mosena for a one yard gain off an option screen, The Hounds, who had Larson looking for gaps all night, ran a similar roll on the next play and again, with Spartans hanging onto Larson he found senior Quentin Schneider up the right sideline. Schneider turned and raced 29 yards to the Bloodhound 36.
But the drive would stall out after a holding penalty and couple of short gains forced a punt the Spartans would return to the Hounds 38.
Three plays later Solon Coach Kevin Miller caught the Bloodhounds in a blitz and with four Hounds sucked into the pocket Cam Miller floated the ball over their heads to Poynton who had a about three Solon lineman in front of him until he outraced them to the left sideline and blew into the endzone to set the final at 45-7.
Doherty was much happier with the effort… and attitude… of the Bloodhounds in the second half.
“We came back in the second half and they still had some of their firebreathers out there and we started having some success with the (run-pass option),” he said.
“It’s a lot of fun when you run this offense the way that it’s supposed to be ran. Hopefully it builds confidence that we can do this against really good football players.”
He said the Hounds are still very young and new to the offense, but success is coming as they learn.
“We’re still young in it and we’re working with it and trying to get better at it every single day and – you know – when you get faced with a team like this it throws a kink in what you’ve been working on,” he said.
“Tonight they just had a lot of pressure in our face and until we started wanting to deal with it, it was hard for Will to see anything.
The Hounds held the Spartans in check most of the night on the ground, but Miller, Coons and Andregg had success making Hounds miss tackles, including a play where Miller moved from left to right out of the pocket, and after scrambling for about six seconds found Cole Arduser on the left side of the endzone for a 4-yard score.
“Defensively they played…they played hard – and offensively, too. We’re not going to make excuses, but that’s a D1 quarterback and they’ve got a lot of guys that are going to go on and play at the next level and that’s the difference in where they’re at versus where we’re at right now.
Larson was 10-29 through the air for 93 yards and a touchdown, his sixth of the year. Denning led the Hounds in receiving with 49 yards on four catches and a score.
The Hounds struggled to open holes on the ground game with Larson leading the way with just 15 yards off the option on 17 carries.
Romeo Maestro led the Hounds in tackles with 5.5 including a sack of Miller. Levy Lowney and Lozano each had 4.5 tackles and Schneider added three.
The Hounds (3-2) travel to Fairfield next week before returning home the following week for matchup with Washington (4-1). Washington is coming off of ending Keokuk’s unblemished season with a win at Keokuk.