SOLON — Western Dubuque was firing on all cylinders.
And Solon got run over, suffering one of its worst playoff losses.
Bobcats quarterback Calvin Harris hit Drake George for their third touchdown on the first play of the final quarter, starting a continuous clock and leading eighth-ranked Western Dubuque to a 48-13 victory over No. 4 Solon in the first round of the Class 3A state football playoffs Friday at Spartan Stadium.
The Bobcats (8-2) enjoyed every moment of it, celebrating at the goal line after head coach Justin Penner sprinted to join his waiting players.
“Coach always emphasizes when we come out and play with excitement and have fun that is when we are at our best,” Harris said. “We came out and did that tonight.”
Western Dubuque parlayed three Solon mistakes into a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Bobcats went for the jugular after each Solon miscue, scoring on the very next play twice.
“We want to, right after that, take a shot,” said Harris, who also rushed for a 4-yard TD. “That is big for us. If we do that and execute well, it turns a lot of things in our favor.”
The Spartans (9-1) coughed up the ball on their first offensive snap, which the Bobcats’ Jason Simon-Ressler recovered at the Solon 18. Harris found George for an 18-yard touchdown on the next play.
On the Bobcats’ next possession, a roughing penalty near their own goal line extended the drive. Harris and George connected again, this time for a 72-yard scoring strike and a 14-0 advantage.
Harris threw for 277 yards and teamed up with George eight times for 166 yards, including a 9-yard TD to cap the scoring in the final quarter. George has been a big weapon for the Bobcats all season, entering the game with 795 yards on 54 catches.
“You throw it up and he just runs away from people,” Harris said. “It’s unbelievable, but it’s awesome to have a guy like that.”
Cam Miller’s first pass was intercepted and returned to the Solon 49 by Western Dubuque. Four plays later, Jake Hosch punched it in for the first of his two 1-yard TD runs in the first half. A 34-yard pass from Harris to George set up the TD run.
Hosch capped the Bobcats’ first second-half drive with a 4-yard score and finished with 105 yards.
Solon tried to make a dent in the early deficit. Miller hit Clay Gerdin for a 6-yard TD pass on the first play of the second quarter. Coal Flansburg added a 1-yard TD rush later in the quarter that made it 28-13.
Western Dubuque’s defense was just as dominant, sacking Miller four times and limiting the Spartans rush attack to 56 yards. Miller managed 232 yards passing, hitting A.J. Coons for 96 on three catches. The Bobcats defense barely bent, nevertheless break.
Solon didn’t help itself with 13 penalties for more than 140 yards, coming at inopportune times.
“I thought our defense responded well, considering we gave up some big plays,” Penner said. “We just didn’t allow some scores.”
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Western Dubuque will play No. 3 North Scott at Eldridge next week. The Lancers won a 7-6 matchup early in the season.
“It’s really hard to beat a team twice,” Penner said. “I like where our kids’ heads are going to be at.
“That loss stung really badly. We’ve been down there and are familiar with those guys.”
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