CEDAR FALLS, Ia. — Sioux City Heelan quarterback Trenton Solsma put on a clinic in the UNI-Dome Thursday night and led the Crusaders into the Class 3-A state finals.
Solsma passed for four touchdowns and ran for two others as No. 5 Heelan blasted No. 2 Grinnell 42-14 in the semifinals.
Heelan (12-1) will face top-ranked Decorah (13-0) in the state championship game next Thursday in the UNI-Dome.
“It’s such a thrill,” Solsma said. “It’s such a great feeling to get to the semifinals and we get to go play for a state championship.”
Solsma accounted for five touchdowns in the first half alone as the Crusaders grabbed a 35-7 advantage by intermission.
The 6-foot-1 junior finished 16-of-23 for 236 yards, with almost all of his damage coming in the first two quarters. He threw only one pass in the second half and it went for a TD.
Grinnell quarterback Eli Dunne, trying in vain all night to catch up, finished 20-of-42 for 263 yards and three interceptions.
Solsma gave Heelan a 42-7 lead with 8:39 left in the third quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Phil Jacobson, igniting the continuous clock for a good portion of the second half against the second-ranked and previously undefeated Tigers.
Solsma passed for three touchdowns and ran for two TDs in the first half as Heelan raced to its imposing 35-7 lead. He completed 15-of-22 passes for 207 yards in the first two quarters as the Crusaders picked the Tigers apart.
Solsma hit Connor Niles with a 31-yard touchdown pass to start the parade just 76 seconds into the contest.
Solsma looked cool and almost casual on the field, but appearances were a little misleading.
“I had a few butterflies coming out right away, but scoring on that first drive really helped us out,” he said. “It helped to calm me down a little bit.”
Dunne was intercepted on his first play from scrimmage and Solsma scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak a few plays later, making it 14-0 less than four minutes into the game.
Grinnell went three-and-out and a 30-yard punt return by Jacobson gave the Crusaders another short field. Solsma promptly found Niles again for a 26-yard touchdown and the Crusaders owned a 21-0 lead with 7:11 still left in the opening quarter.
Grinnell countered with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Dunne to Zach McGriff, but Heelan added two more touchdowns in the first half for its commanding 35-7 bulge at intermission.
Niles snared his third touchdown pass of the first half on a 23-yard strike from Solsma, then Solsma broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run as the lead continued to grow.
Solsma and Niles were a dynamic duo in the first half.
“We’re pretty good buddies,” Niles said. “We kind of give each other crap every time. I really like him. He’s a great quarterback.”
Dunne hit 13-of-31 passes for 163 yards in the first half, but was intercepted two times. The two quarterbacks combined to throw 53 passes in the first two periods.
Grinnell (12-1) collected 19 first downs in the first half, but found the end zone only once. Zach McGriff caught a 5-yard touchdown pass late in the game for his second TD of the night.
Jack Wegher, a freshman, carried 20 times for 103 yards for Heelan.
Grinnell 7 0 0 7 — 14
Heelan 21 14 7 0 — 42
H – Connor Niles 31 pass from Trenton Solsma (Tyler Stolen kick)
H – Solsma 1 run (Stolen kick)
H – Niles 26 pass from Solsma (Stolen kick)
G – Zach McGriff 17 pass from Eli Dunne (Julio Sanchez kick)
H – Niles 23 pass from Solsma (Stolen kick)
H – Solsma 52 run (Stolen kick)
H – Phil Jacobson 29 pass from Solsma (Stolen kick)
G – McGriff 5 pass from Dunne (Sanchez kick)
Rushing — Grinnell: Bryce Lidtka 12-93, Kajuan Stalling 2-16, Jack Leshen 2-9, Eli Dunne 8-0; Heelan: Jack Wegher 20-103, Trenton Solsma 8-71, Manny Alcarez 2-3, Team 1-minus 2.
Passing — Grinnell: Eli Dunne 20-42-3-263, Joe Nowasell 1-1-0-16; Heelan: Trenton Solsma 16-23-0-236.
Receiving — Grinnell: Joe Nowasell 6-95, Zach McGriff 6-61, Bryce Lidtka 4-78, Jack Leshen 3-36, Kajuan Stalling 1-16, Troy Smith 1-2; Heelan: Phil Jacobson 8-105, Connor Niles 5-86, Connor Spears 2-33, Jack Wegher 1-3.
Decorah 48, Williamsburg 7
CEDAR FALLS, Ia. The top-ranked Vikings are on track for the fifth state title in school history.
Decorah smothered No. 3 Williamsburg and will face No.
Josey Jewell carried the ball 14 times for 133 yards and scored on two long runs as the Vikings (13-0) completely dominated the Raiders (11-2) with a ball-control offense and stifling defense.
Jewell, an all-state linebacker last year, broke loose for touchdowns that covered 31 and 36 yards in the third quarter, displaying his power and speed.
Drew Schwartz scored on a 34-yard run, Jacob Kvale tallied on a 10-yard jaunt, Mikhail Suvorov scored on a 14-yard run and Holt Johansen had a one-yard score. Josh Lee kicked two field goals.
Jewell and Johansen pounded away at the Raiders as a powerful 1-2 punch in the backfield as Decorah took control early and never let go.
Johansen lugged the ball 15 times for 68 yards. Kvale completed 5 of 10 passes for 85 yards, throwing enough to keep the Williamsburg defense off-balance.
Williamsburg quarterback Jacob Donohoe had a rough time against the tough Vikings. He completed only 6 of 24 passes for 48 yards with three interceptions. The Raiders finished with an 11-2 record.
The Class 3-A final between Decorah and Heelan will offer two successful teams with different approaches to the game. The Vikings prefer to pound away on the ground and mix in the pass at times, while the Crusaders prefer a spread offense that features quarterback Trent Solsma.
Williamsburg 0 0 0 7 — 7
Decorah 3 24 14 7 — 48
D – Josh Lee 31 FG
D – Holt Johansen 1 run (Lee kick)
D – Lee 37 FG
D – Drew Schwartz 34 run (Lee kick)
D – Josey Jewell 31 run (Lee kick)
D – Jewell 36 run (Lee kick)
D – Mikhail Suvorov 14 run (Bryce Pierce kick)
W – Braidon Reysack 3 run (Andrew Wichman kick)
Note: Individual leaders were not available.
DECORAH VS. WILLIAMSBURG
Cedar Falls, Ia. — Please check back.