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Your Prep Sports
CEDAR FALLS – The Class 3A semifinal between top-ranked Solon and No. 3 Cedar Rapids Xavier was billed as a battle of heavyweight defenses.
It was the Xavier offense that provided the knockout blow early.
Xavier (12-0) scored touchdowns on all four first-half possessions and added a punt return for a score while bolting to a 35-point halftime lead that turned into an emphatic 35-7 win over Solon (11-1) on Thursday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
The Saints averaged 11 yards per offensive snap and posted 35 points in two quarters against a Solon defense that allowed 37 points in 11 consecutive wins to open the season.
“Boy I don’t know, I’d have to think through all 12 games but against a team like this I’d have to say it’s up there. They are a really good football team,” Xavier coach Duane Schulte said when asked if the first half was the Saints’ best offensive half of the year. “To get 35 points against Solon in the first half is unbelievable.”
Junior quarterback Quinn Schulte had rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and completed 4-of-5 passes for 137 yards as the Saints rolled up 276 total yards before halftime.
Solon entered the semifinal allowing 137 total yards per game.
“I’m proud of our football team, that’s not our best game but all the credit goes to Xavier they played outstanding tonight,” said Solon coach Kevin Miller. “They were hitting on all cylinders and we just couldn’t find our stride.”
Solon took the opening kickoff and marched 55 yards to the Xavier 20-yard line but came away without points, turning the ball over on downs.
AJ Coons nearly gave Solon an early lead but was ruled out of bounds on a potential touchdown catch.
Xavier quickly seized the momentum with an 80-yard, seven-play drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Schulte on a third down play.
“We didn’t score and lost some of the momentum and they went down and scored and it really affected the entire first half," Miller said. "We just didn’t respond the way we needed to when things went bad.”
That touchdown started a perfect storm for Xavier that featured three touchdowns in less than five minutes.
A Cam Miller interception led to a three-play Xavier touchdown drive that ended with a Braden Stovie 7-yard touchdown run.
The Spartans went 3-and-out on the next possession and Stovie returned the punt 56 yards for a touchdown to put Xavier up 21-0 with 50 seconds left in the opening quarter.
“That was pretty cool,” Stovie said of the punt return. “Our guys Carter Hartman and Brandon Serovy on the edges they do a really good job protecting and are really good blockers and that set it up. That was fun.”
Solon put together its best drive of the game on the ensuing possession, marching to the Xavier 5-yard line.
On first down Coal Flansburg fumbled and Jacob Hines recovered for Xavier.
The Saints followed with a 10-play, 94-yard touchdown drive that consisted of all running plays and ended with a 16-yard scamper by Schulte.
“I felt like a few times we were there in position but we just couldn’t take or over pursued and they were patient,” Solon senior Tyler Linderbaum said. “Their quarterback and running back are good and they played really well.”
Xavier all but put the game away when Schulte scored on a 1-yard plunge on a fourth down play with 1:53 left in the first half to make it 35-0.
Solon got on the board in the fourth quarter when Miller connected with Kendrick Harris on a 24-yard touchdown pass.
Harris led Solon with 89 yards rushing on 14 carries, all in the first half.
“We had a couple of drives going and then we just didn’t execute,” Harris said. “They got the big plays and we didn’t.”
Solon finished with 230 yards, its lowest output since managing 214 in the season opener at Mount Vernon.
The Spartans entered +27 in turnover margin on the season but didn’t force a turnover and committed three.
“Credit goes to Xavier they played outstanding, they are a good football team and they outplayed us today,” Kevin Miller said. “That’s not the way we wanted to go out because we are better than what we displayed tonight.”
First Downs 11 15
Rushes-Yards 22-99 40-218
Comp-Att-Int 9-19-2 5-7-0
Passing Yards 131 144
Punts-Avg. 2-41.5 1-19
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-25 7-45
Solon 0 0 0 7 – 7
CR Xavier 21 14 0 0 – 35
CRX – Quinn Schulte 5 run (Ben Conrad kick)
CRX – Braden Stovie 7 run (Conrad kick)
CRX – Stovie 54 punt return (Conrad kick)
CRX – Schulte 16 run (Conrad kick)
CRX – Schulte 1 run (Conrad kick)
SOL – Kendrick Harris 24 pass from Cam Miller (Aidan Dall kick)
RUSHING – SOL: Kendrick Harris 14-89, Cam Miller 5-11, Adam Bock 1-1, Hunter Kula 1-(-1), Coal Flansburg 1-(-1). CRX: Quinn Schulte 15-117, Braden Stovie 22-88, Joey Drahozal 2-11, McClain Burger 1-4.
PASSING – SOL: Cam Miller 9-19-2 131. CRX: Quinn Schulte 5-7-0 144.
RECEIVING – SOL: Ben Krutzfeldt 3-43, Kendrick Harris 2-42, Payton Bandy 2-41, Adam Bock 2-5. CRX: Braden Stovie 2-80, Gabe Lux 2-46, McClain Burger 1-18.