SPRINGDALE -- Matthew Solomon of Shiloh Christian was due some good fortune on a return this season.
Twice earlier in the year he returned two punts for scores, only to look back and see yellow flags laying behind him for penalties that negated the returns.
How They Scored
Shiloh Christian 43, Berryville 14
Shiloh — Solomon 85 kickoff return (Reece to Solomon pass), 11:45.
Shiloh — Solomon 86 pass from Reece (Reece to Solomon pass), 9:32.
Shiloh — Solomon 32 pass from Reece (Freeman kick), 6:32.
Shiloh — Carruthers 35 pass from Reece (Freeman kick), 3:32.
Shiloh — Smith 55 run (kick fails), :00
Shiloh — Carruthers 7 run (Freeman kick), 9:36.
Berry — Brummett 9 run (Ferguson run), 3:28.
Berry — Brummett 11 run (run fails), 3:39.
On Friday night, he gathered Berryville's opening kickoff at his own 15 and zipped down the left sideline. As he raced past the Berryville kicker, he looked back to see if there was any laundry on the field. All the officials flags were still tucked away.
Solomon's 85-yard opening kickoff return was all the spark the Saints needed en route to a 43-14 mercy-rule win in the 4A-1 Conference opener in Champions Stadium.
When asked if he peeked back before crossing the goal line, Solomon admitted he did.
"It crossed my mind," Solomon said. "I did at first, then I realized it was a touchdown. Coming out of the gate we wanted to take the kickoff to the house. Everyone blocked and I saw a hole and immediately knew that we were going to get what we wanted."
The Saints (2-2, 1-o) won in their first game back in Class 4A after two seasons in the 5A-West Conference. And this one was never in doubt. After Solomon's opening score, the Saints quickly piled up the points. Two plays after Shiloh Christian's Jack Sheridan recovered a Berryville fumble, Solomon was in the end zone again, catching an 86-yard scoring strike from quarterback Connor Reece. After both touchdowns, Reece hit Solomon for 2-point conversions and a 16-0 lead with 9 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
"I think it was real big to get off to a fast start, just for our confidence," Shiloh Christian coach Jeff Conaway said. "We played in three real close games and lost two of them. So we really needed to start fast. That was the challenge all week."
Reece and Solomon connected again on Shiloh Christian's second possession, this time on a 32-yard scoring pass and a 23-0 lead. On four touches, Solomon had three touchdowns and 203 all-purpose yards.
The score did not indicate it, but Berryville (2-2, 0-1) was effective offensively as quarterback Jacob Graham ripped off a pair of long runs on the Bobcats' first two possessions. But the early fumble proved costly and the Saints' defense also came up with several key stops to keep Berryville out of the end zone.
"It (the fumble) definitely set the tone, but I don't think it made a big difference in the game on the whole," Berryville coach Lee Atkins said. "We had chances, we just couldn't close it.
• Chandler Smith made the most of his three carries for the Saints, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Freeman added 78 yards on 5 carries for the Saints.
• Reece continues to put up big numbers. The sophomore finished 5-of-6 for 165 yards and three touchdowns before watching the second half after the Saints reached the mercy rule.
• Graham was injured first quarter and had to be taken to a local hospital with a hip injury. He ran 4 times for 78 yards, but was injured on a running play near the Shiloh Christian goal line in the first quarter and only briefly returned.
• Midway through the first quarter, a small drone flew over the field. The drone flew from behind the home stands. The craft hovered over the field for a few minutes before disappearing again.
Up Next: Shiloh Christian is on the road next week at Huntsville, and Berryville hosts Gentry.
Sports on 09/27/2014
Print Headline: Solomon Leads Saints Past Berryville