The Solon Comets football team were ready to turn the page to a new chapter.
New coach Brian Wisniewski admitted that he still was unsure about several of the new faces on the Solon Comets football team.
He got clarity about what kind of team the Comets were but not a favorable result when Solon could not slow down the Hudson Explorers in a 49-35 defeat last Friday evening at Stewart Field.
“The way Hudson tempos its offense always puts its opponent in a bind,” noted Wisniewski. “When its running a play every 11 seconds, that doesn’t give us a lot of time to make a lot of adjustments in the middle of the series. You can’t get subs on which is all the stuff that an up-tempo offense presents from a challenge standpoint.”
The Explorers scored first when senior tailback Aidan Lal converted a fourth-and-one by breaking free for a 62-yard touchdown run to put Hudson up 7-0 in the opening quarter.
Wisniewski knew Solon (0-1) would have its hands full dealing with the Air Force Academy commit.
“Aidan Lal was a man that night,” said Wisniewski. “He was tough and we knew going in that he was going to be a guy that they counted on, and he was tough last night and took it to us.”
The 6-foot-3 Explorers’ running back trampled all over the Solon defense by posting 295 yards and five touchdowns on 24 carries.
Wisniewski decided to use a two-pronged attack at the quarterback position as sophomore Charlie Bubonics and junior Andrew Mulvaney split time.Bubonics was the junior varsity quarterback for Solon last year while Mulvaney served as reserve varsity quarterback and also spent some playing wide receiver.
“Both did some good things but at times both looked like it was their first time out there,” said Wisniewski. “That’s just the natural thing that’s going to happen. You can’t replicate Friday night against a good team like Hudson. You can’t replicate that in practice so there’s a little bit of a learning curve there but it felt like both guys made some plays.”
Bubonics engineered a response to Hudson’s first touchdown, connecting with senior wide receiver Zach Nathanson on a 9-yard touchdown pass to even the score near the end of the first quarter.
The Comets’ offense continued to churn as junior tailback E.J. Taylor found a nice seam up the middle for a 42-yard touchdown run to give the Comets their first lead.
Taylor chalked up 152 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries, and he had six receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown.
“I think he’d be the first to credit the offensive line to make those holes for him,” said Wisniewski of his tailback. “E.J.’s a great kid and a really hard worker. I was happy to see him perform on Friday night but he’s not going to be satisfied with that just like we aren’t. We are going to keep pushing him to get better so hopefully he keeps progressing as the season goes on.”
The Comets had no answer for Lal as he continued to run wild. The Explorers knotted up the game at 14-14 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Lal late in the second quarter. Hudson then went ahead 21-14 when junior quarterback Jagger Pulley delivered a 79-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Colin Pierce.
The Explorers started to run away with the game in the second half when they scored on their opening drive on an 8-yard touchdown run by Lal to stretch the lead to 28-14.
The Comets needed a big play to turn the tide and senior linebacker Markell Green delivered when he picked off Pulley and ran it back for 40 yards. Solon capitalized on the turnover as Mulvaney found Taylor in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown reception to close the gap to 28-20.
“It was a huge swing for us,” said Wisniewski. “They had the ball around midfield and were up two scores and driving. We felt like we needed a play and we got it. Markell made a great play and then our offense punched it in. All of a sudden we were down one score.”
Hudson then turned up the heat.
First, Lall scored his fourth touchdown as he ripped off 57-yarder to the end zone at the end of the third quarter making it a 35-21 lead.
Then the Comets’ offense stalled as they suffered two consecutive penalties to open up their drive, resulting in Mulvaney tossing an interception which turned into another touchdown for the Explorers as Lall scampered for a 28-yard score.
Hudson delivered the finishing strike when senior tailback Ryan Evans scored on a 38-yard touchdown run.
“It was a turnover, short field for them then they punched it in,” said Wisniewski. “Before we knew it we were down eight now we were down 22.”
The Explorers scored 21 points in a span of just three minutes and totaled 386 yards on the ground.
Mulvaney completed eight passes out of 16 attempts for 71 yards, one interception and a touchdown while Bubonics totaled 158 yards and a touchdown by completing 13 of 19 passes.
The Comets face Shaker Heights for a 5 p.m. contest on Aug. 27 at Russell H. Rupp Field.