116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON — In a word, turnovers. Six of them to be exact. Five led to scores and Solon was the main benefactor.
The Spartans forced four of them on their way to a 28-14 victory over Williamsburg on Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
“They’re always critical,” Solon wide receiver/defensive back Jake Quillin said. “That’s what (the coaches) preach every single day in practice, that we have to get the ball out and turn it over. That’s our No. 1 thing.”
At some point, the schedule will ease up for the Raiders (0-3). Williamsburg has spent the first three weeks of the season matched up with the No. 1 (Van Meter) and No. 4 (Iowa City Regina) teams in Class 1A before visiting Class 3A fifth-ranked Solon (3-0).
The Raiders have found it tough to gain ground, tallying just 31 yards on 48 attempts through two games while adding 129 through the air. Williamsburg continued to find the going tough against the Spartans’ front seven.
The Spartans found the scoreboard early. Pinning Williamsburg back deep in its own end, Clayten Steckly took off up the middle attempting to pick up a third-and-long. Blowing by the line to gain, Steckly lost the ball fighting for extra yards. Solon pounced on it at the Raiders 32.
Sean Stahle ripped off an 18-yard run on the Spartans’ first snap. Facing third-and-7 at the 11, Blake Timmons kept it up the middle on a quarterback draw, finding the end zone as Solon seized the early 7-0 lead with 9:29 left in the first quarter.
Say what you will about the Williamsburg offense, but the defense has been limiting powerful offenses for three straight weeks. As the Solon defense forced punt after punt, the Raiders swarmed to the football to keep Williamsburg in it.
“They’re way better than their record,” Solon head coach Lucas Stanton said. “Curt Ritchie is one of the best coaches out there. They’re a proud program. We knew their defense was probably going to be the best we’ve seen.”
As the first half was coming to a close, the Raiders finally caught a break. Stahle, attempting to return a punt, fumbled. The ball kicked around with the Raiders eventually landing on it at the Solon 31.
Stifled time after time, Gable Dayton finally found a hole up the middle and took off 20 yards into the end zone, tying the score 7-7 at the break.
The second half began like the first. After a positive gain on first down, Dayton fumbled and the Spartans recovered at the Raiders 24. Following a 15-yard holding penalty, Timmons lined up in the shotgun.
Misfiring throughout the first half, going 0-for-7, Timmons unleashed a perfect spiral that led Quillin past the goal line for a beautiful 39-yard score as the Spartans regained the lead.
But the fumble bug bit again. Timmons didn’t see the rush coming from his blindside and coughed up the ball as he was hit. Kyle Goodell picked it up for a 23-yard scoop-and-score.
A long Spartans drive came up short, and as Williamsburg regained possession, this time an interception did them in. Quillin picked off Cade Ritchie to set the Spartans up at the Williamsburg 19. Two plays later, Stahle scored from 6 yards out.
“It was really good,” Quillin said. “Our whole team, our energy just flipped from that point and we went on to win.”
The Raiders’ offensive struggles continued. Following their eighth punt, the Spartans finally got going downhill. Timmons and Stahle alternated big runs as a 76-yard drive ran precious time off the clock and ended with Stahle’s second touchdown of the night. Stahle, coming in with 282 yards on 21 carries, added 202 yards on 30 attempts.