Elijah Solum broke Spring Grove single-season records for both passing yardage and passing touchdowns during the Lions’ 40-22 win over Hancock in the 9-man state quarterfinals at St. Paul on Nov. 10. Solum was statistically responsible for all six Spring Grove touchdowns, running for three and passing for three. State-ranked No. 3 Spring Grove (12-0) moved on to a Nov. 17 semi-final clash versus No. 2 Fertile-Beltrami. (11-0).
The Lions won nine of the 10 fourth-down duels while the teams staged a fierce aerial battle. But Spring Grove was also able to run the ball (224 yards). The state-ranked No. 8 Owls (9-2) could not establish a ground attack and could not extend drives on critical third and fourth downs. Overall, SG outgained Hancock, 486 yards to 392.
Solum rushed for 115 yards and backfield mate Hunter Holland for 97, each eclipsing the Hancock team rushing total of 72 yards. Solum has now 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 are the most since the 2018 state semi-finals. He completed his first five passes, including a 4-yard touchdown connection with Ethan Crouch, which was Solum’s record-breaking 33rd TD toss of the season. He would finish with 35 after 5-yard and 10-yard scoring passes to Tysen Grinde (6-29 receiving). Solum has now passed for a new school single-season record of 2,434 yards. Amazingly, seven different Lion receivers got in on the action, including Jaxon Strinmoen with six catches (111 yards) and Caleb Griffin with five receptions (74 yards). Griffin also threw the Lions’ longest completion with his 47-yard reverse pass to Strinmoen.
Hancock senior signal-caller Davin Rose (16-for-28 passing, no interceptions) passed for 320 yards, the most for a Lion opponent in five years. He threw to a pair of 100-yard receivers – junior Titus Bjerketvedt (8-169 receiving) and senior Jackson Koehl (5-113), the latter with TD grabs of 58 and 5 yards. Each also had a two-point conversion catch. Rose also had a 1-yard TD run, which like Solum, made him responsible for each of his team’s touchdowns.
Although the Lion defense was scorched by six passes covering 30 or more yards, the Grove defenders dominated almost every crucial move-the-chains situation, stopping all five of the Owls’ fourth-down attempts. And Hancock converted only 1 of 8 third-down tries. Meanwhile, SG converted 4 of 5 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, led by 20 points at halftime and by as many as 26 in the third quarter. 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 scamper and two-point run 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 that would be as close as it would get. SG answered quickly with Griffin’s deep 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 comfortable 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 after Rose hit Bjerketvedt with a 58-yard TD pass, the game’s only long-distance scoring play.
A 13-play SG 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 the touchdown and two-point conversion to close the scoring with just under two minutes remaining. Hancock closed at 9-2 with the other loss coming against top-ranked Wheaton/Herman-Norcross.
Team totals: YARDAGE (rush + pass): SG 484 (232+252); Han 392 (72+320)
RUSHING: att.-yards (avg.): SG 42-232 (5.5) 3 TD; Han 23-72 (3.1) TD
PASSES: comp-att-int, yds. (TD): SG 21-33-1, 252 (3 TD); Han 16-28-0, 2 TD
Sacks allowed: SG 0, Han 1
TD: SG 6, 3 rush, 3 pass; Han 3 (rush 1, pass 2)
PAT: SG 2-6 (0-1 kick, 2-3 run, 0-2 pass)Han 2-3 (0-1 run, 2-2 pass)
TOTAL PLAYS: SG 75, Han 51
AVG. yards per play: SG 6.5, Han 7.7
FUMBLES – LOST: SG 4-1, Han 4-1
TURNOVERS: SG 2, Han 1
PENALTIES: SG 2-15, Han 7-47
3rd downs: SG 8-14, Han 1-8
4th downs: SG 4-5, Han 0-5
Red zone: SG 5-8, Han 1-1
First downs: SG 20, Han 14
Plays of 20+ yards: SG 6, Han 6
RUSHING 420-232, 3TD: Elijah Solum 19-115, 3 TD; Hunter Holland 19-97; Caleb Griffin 1-21; Zach Brumm 2-2; team knee 1-(-1)
PASSING: Elijah Solum 20-32-1, 205 yds, 3 TD; Caleb Griffin 1-1-0,47 yds.
RECEIVING 21-252 yds, 3 TD: Jaxon Strinmoen 6-111; Caleb Griffin 5-74; Tysen Grinde 6-29, 2 TD; Hunter Holland 1-17; Bryce Berns 1-13; Ethan Crouch 1-4, TD; Zach Brumm 1-4
KICKOFF RETURNS 2-23: Caleb Griffin 1-14, Tysen Grinde 1-9
PUNT RETURNS: none
SCORING 40: Elijah Solum 22, Tysen Grinde 12, Ethan Crouch 6
PUNTING: Tysen Grinde 1-23
PASS BREAKUPS: Tysen Grinde 3, Elijah Solum 1, Jaxon Strinmoen 1
FUMBLES FORCED: Logan Brumm 1
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Elijah Solum 1
SACKS: Elijah Solum 1
TACKLES for LOSS (incl. sacks): Elijah Solum 1, Logan Brumm 1
TACKLES (solo + assists): Logan Brumm 8 (5+3), Jaxon Strinmoen 6 (6+0)Elijah Solum 6 (5+1); Tysen Grinde 5 (5+0); Zach Brumm 4 (3+1); Caleb Griffin 4 (3+1); Jacob Olerud 3 (2+1); Bryce Berns 2 (2+0); Ethan Crouch 2 (2+0); Troy Reinhardt 2 (0+2); Emmet Engeldinger 2 (0+2); Sylas Flatin 2 (0+2); Noah Blackburn 1 (0+1); Noah Heppner 1 (0+1); Jacob Solum 1 (0+1)
Spring Grove football 2021
>>12 wins, 0 losses (8-0 sub-district champion)
W vs. Houston 60-30
W at Lyle/Pacelli 48-20
W vs. Mabel-Canton 56-14
W at Grand Meadow 47-16
W at Southland (Adams) 33-14
W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 50-21
W at Kingsland 41-20
W vs. Lanesboro 28-6
W vs. Houston 48-16
W vs. Grand Meadow 47-6
W vs. Lanesboro 35-0
W vs. Hancock 40-22