When rival Twinsburg scored on the third play of the game, Solon had a question mark as to whether or not another high-scoring slugfest would ensue during non-league action Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
The Comet gridders had to outscore Hudson, 46-41, to prevail in their season opener the previous week, while Twinsburg had to outlast Copley, 21-20, in double overtime.
So, when the host Tigers opened up the week-two battle with a 71-yard touchdown toss from senior Aidan Corrigan to junior Alex Branch for a 6-0 upper hand just 94 seconds into the 59th gridiron meeting between Solon and Twinsburg, the Comets’ offense might be called upon to put another 46 points on the board.
“They’ve always been very aggressive,” Solon 17th-year head coach Jim McQuaide said. “It’s been a very good rivalry for many, many years. We’ve played them more than any other school in the history of our program, and we’ve had some really close games going over there.
“They ran a good play, a good combination pass route and got us. And we’re playing good teams, so they’re going to score, and they’re going to stop us from scoring. And we did a good job of fighting through that, which we’re going to have to do all season.”
But that 71-yard touchdown was pretty much the gist of Twinsburg’s offense.
Solon went on to score the next 46 points of the game for the 46-6 victory. The Comets’ defense held Twinsburg to just 57 yards rushing when it was all said and done.
In the season opener the previous week, Solon’s defense allowed 403 yards rushing against Hudson.
“We told the guys before the (Twinsburg) game that we should just take our jersey numbers off and put a question mark in front of everybody, coaches and players, and just see how much are we going to be better than the week before,” McQuaide said. “And I told them afterward that we could take the question marks off, because we did a good job of answering that question.”
Not only did Solon hold down the fort on Twinsburg’s run game, but the Comets dominated the turnover battle for the second straight week. After forcing five cough-ups against Hudson, Solon forced four against the Tigers, including interceptions by senior defensive backs Dominic McGhee and Ryan Mulvaney and fumble recoveries by senior linemen Najee Story and Jack Westrich. Senior linebacker RJ Howard had a team-high seven tackles.
While the Comets were down early, they didn’t waste time answering with senior Grant McCurry’s 53-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Pat McQuaide followed by McQuaide’s keeper on a two-point conversion for an 8-6 upper hand with 9:02 left in the opening act.
“It was a play we’ve run all year where (McCurry’s) a good athlete, he’s able to outrun the secondary, and our quarterback, Pat McQuaide, he’s got a good arm, and they’re developing into a good combination,” coach McQuaide said of the touchdown.
“Up to this point, we’ve been pretty balanced being able to run the ball, and we’re throwing it at almost a 70 percent completion rate for two games, which you’re always striving for that balance,” he said. “And a lot of guys are carrying the ball and catching the ball.”
Quarterback McQuaide completed 12 of 17 passes for 268 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, while McCurry had the hot hands with five catches for 187 yards and three touchdowns. But, by the end of the night, eight Solon gridders scored points, including senior kicker Harrison Rich and junior kickers Noah Jahnke and Zach Baldwin.
After Story forced a Tiger fumble at the Twinsburg 23-yard line, Solon 205-pound junior running back Khalil Eichelberger capitalized on a 12-yard touchdown to provide a 15-6 lead with 6:35 to go in the first quarter. He finished with 10 carries for 91 yards and two catches for 38 yards.
Jahnke connected on a 24-yard field goal for an 18-6 upper hand with 1:58 to go in the first quarter, then Solon forced another turnover, and McQuaide dialed up McCurry on the next play for a 31-yard touchdown toss to take a 25-6 lead with 1:40 to go in the frame.
McQuaide dialed up McCurry again, this time for a 40-yard touchdown, with 4:47 to go in the half for the Comets’ 32-6 lead at intermission.
“We think every year that our guys put a lot of time into the offseason,” coach McQuaide said about Solon’s offense hitting the ground running with 92 points through two games.
“And those are some guys that have played before,” he said. “You’re talking about Pat (McQuaide) and Khalil (Eichelberger) and Grant (McCurry) and Ethan Wong and Greg Parries – those guys have all played. So, this isn’t their first time doing this. And you throw in Dom McGhee and Kevin Perry, RJ Howard. So, I think their experience is showing.”
Senior receiver Greg Parries caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from McQuaide just 38 seconds into the third quarter to enact a running clock with a 39-6 lead.
And 180-pound senior running back Kevin Perry turned on the jets for a 61-yard touchdown run down the sideline with 4:45 to go in the frame for the eventual 46-6 final. Perry finished with five carries for 82 yards.
Overall, Solon outgained Twinsburg, 484 yards to 203 yards, with 21 first downs compared to the Tigers’ nine to improve to 2-0 for the fourth straight year.
Up next, Solon will travel to take on fellow Division I foe Stow-Munroe Falls (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in Summit County.
“They definitely give you a lot to be concerned about,” coach McQuaide said. “They have a big defensive front, some really active defensive linemen. Offensively, the quarterback is throwing the ball all over the place. And they’ve scored from a lot of different places. So, it’s a big test, and we haven’t won over there in a long, long time either.”