Elijah Solum broke Spring Grove single-season records for both passing yardage and passing touchdowns during a 40-22 win over Hancock in a 9-man state quarterfinal at St. Paul. Solum was responsible for all six Lion touchdowns, running for three and passing for three. Third-ranked Spring Grove (12-0) will face #2 Fertile-Beltrami (11-0) in the semis. The Lions won nine of the 10 fourth-down duels while the teams staged a fierce aerial battle. But SG was also able to run the ball (224 yards). The #8 Owls (9-2) could not establish a ground attack and were denied on critical third and fourth downs. Overall, the Lions outgained Hancock 486 to 392. Solum rushed for 115 yards, Hunter Holland for 97, each eclipsing Hancock’s 72 yards rushing. Solum has rushed for 1,142 yards this season and Holland for 1,108. Meanwhile, the Lion defense limited 6-foot-5, 225-pound running back Chase Evink to only 29 yards on eight carries. Solum (20-32-1, 205 yards passing) completed 20 passes, and the team’s 21 completions were the most since the 2018 state semi-finals. He completed his first five, including a 4-yard touchdown connection with Ethan Crouch, which was Solum’s record-breaking 33rd TD toss of the season. He would get 35 after ensuing 5-yard and 10-yard scoring passes to Tysen Grinde (6-29 receiving). Solum has now passed for a new school single-season record 2,434 yards. Seven different Lion receivers got in on the action, including Jaxon Strinmoen (6-111 yards receiving) and Caleb Griffin (5-74 receiving). Griffin also threw the Lions’ longest completion with his 47-yard reverse pass to Strinmoen. Hancock senior Davin Rose (16-for-28 passing) passed
for 320 yards, the most for a Lion opponent in five years. He threw to a pair of 100-yard receivers; Titus Bjerketvedt (8-169 receiving) and Jackson Koehl (5-113). The latter had TD grabs of 58 and 5 yards. Rose also had a 1-yard TD run, making him, like Solum, responsible for each of his team’s touchdowns. Although the Lion defense was scorched by six passes covering 30 or more yards, Grove defenders stopped all five of the Owls’ fourth-down attempts. And Hancock converted only 1 of 8 third-down tries. Meanwhile, SG converted four of five times on fourth down, all on scoring drives. The Lions lost the turnover battle, 2 to 1, thrice denied near the Hancock goal line with an interception, a fumble, and once on downs. But SG never trailed after scoring the game’s first two touchdowns. For the 10th time in 12 games, the Lions scored the first time they had the ball. Despite several big-yardage gains, all six SG touchdowns came on short-yardage plays. The Lions needed only three plays to take an early 6-0 lead. Solum’s 45-yard pass to Griffin set up the 4-yard TD toss to Crouch. Next, Solum capped a 10-play drive with a 9-yard TD scamper and a conversion carry to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter. Likewise for Rose, whose 1-yard TD run was set up by his 35-yard pass to Bjerketvedt. It was suddenly competitive at 14-6, but Hancock would get no closer. SG answered quickly with Griffin’s 47-yard pass to Strinmoen setting up Solum’s 5-yard scoring toss to Grinde to make it 20-6. Solum’s 29-yard completion to Strinmoen went down to the 1 yard-line. Solum then ran it in for a 26-6 halftime margin. The Lions’ lone fourth-down failure came at the Hancock 2 yard-line. But the Lions stopped Hancock’s surprising fourth-down attempt and got the ball back at the Owl 12. Solum ran the final two yards to make it 32-6. The Lions then lost a fumble out of the Owls’ end zone, but they were still comfortably ahead, 32-14, even after Rose hit Koehl with a 58-yard TD pass, the game’s only long-distance scoring play. A 13-play march ended with Solum’s 10-yard TD pass to Grinde to make it 40-14. Rose then threw 39 yards to Bjerketvedt and 23 yards to Koehl for a touchdown to close the scoring with under two minutes remaining.