Zach Pechous returned a third-quarter kickoff 95 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, and Class 2A top-ranked Iowa City Regina ended Solon’s 42-game winning streak, 21-15, in a non-district football game Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans had not lost since the 2006 Class 2A state final.
This was no fluke. Regina (2-0) outplayed and outmuscled its nemesis — Solon had beaten the Regals three times in the past two seasons, including last year’s playoffs — much of the game.
“I’m really proud of these kids,” said Regina Coach Marv Cook. “It’s a tribute to our off-season. To be honest, a lot of our success is because of Solon. They’ve set the benchmark very high.”
A back-and-forth game early, 3A No. 2 Solon (1-1) took a 12-10 lead on Marshall Koehn’s 24-yard field goal with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
It lasted a matter of 15 seconds, the time it took for Pechous to receive the ensuing kickoff, head upfield, shift to the right, then sprint past the Spartans’ coverage.
Ninety-five yards later, the Regals had the lead for good. John Verducci added the two-point conversion on a keeper, and Regina led 18-12.
“I looked for a hole, and I found it,” Pechous said. “Everybody was getting into it (after the touchdown). We had to calm some people down.”
A turnover on the next Solon drive gave the ball back to Regina, and the Regals converted on Daniel Larew’s 36-yard field goal.
The third of Koehn’s three field goals — a 23-yarder with 2:30 left — got the Spartans back with six. But the Regals powered the ball with fullback Berkley Grimm, who carried the ball five straight times and pick up a first down. Regina punted the ball with 15 seconds left, and the Spartans couldn’t do anything with it.
Anthony Halsch rushed for 84 yards, Grimm 61 for the winners. Regina enjoyed a 244-181 advantage in yards.
“This is amazing,” Grimm said. “I respect Solon so much. I’m 40 pounds heavier than I was last year, and I have to credit (strength and conditioning coach) Alex Kanellis.”
Regina led 10-9 at halftime. It would have been a larger margin, but a short punt and a muffed punt gave the Spartans short fields twice, and they cashed in for nine points.
Solon scored first on a 6-yard pass from J.J. Hanus to Colin Stebral. A punt of minus-1 yard gave the Spartans a short field, and they journeyed 22 yards in six plays for the TD.
Koehn missed the PAT.
Regina answered with an 80-yard drive, culminated with a fourth-and-goal, 1-yard dive by Halsch.
Koehn (22 yards) and Larew (27) exchanged then field goals. Larew’s three-pointer came at the halftime horn and put the Regals in front.
Solon opens Class 3A District 6 action next week at Benton Community. Regina is at Wilton in its 2A-5 opener.