By Chris Yow
PARIS, Tenn. — When the chips are down, Summit typically turns to quarterback Destin Wade to cash them in, and rarely does the junior Mr. Football finalist disappoint.
On Friday night, Wade put Henry County defenders — literally — and his teammates — figuratively — on his back, putting up 394 all-purpose yards and accounting for three touchdowns in his team’s 35-21 semifinal win over the Patriots, sending the Spartans to a second consecutive BlueCross Bowl, set for Dec. 4.
Summit (13-1) opened the game with a 66-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Wade handed the ball to Brandon King, who went around the right end and left the Patriots defense behind to give the Spartans an early 7-0 lead. From there, however, they struggled to finish drives, failing to convert a pair of fourth downs inside the 10-yard-line.
“We didn’t finish, and we’ve got to clean that up,” Summit coach Brian Coleman said. “They were packing the box, we went under center and didn’t get it.”
Defensively, Summit held the Patriots at bay for much of the first half until a third-and-9 screen pass went for 61 yards to put the Patriots in the red zone for the first time since a missed field goal attempt on their first drive of the game. Jermarcus Johnson then ran three times for 20 yards, including a 3-yard score with 31 seconds left in the first half to tie the game.
“A couple of big plays, we can’t let that happen, but we’re resilient,” Coleman said.
Summit held Henry County’s top rusher, Johnson to just 94 yards on 26 carries, an average of 3.6 yards per carry. Part of the reason was the return of Keaten Wade. Defensive end Tre Hunter said the confidence in his teammates to make plays after he sets the edge is high.
“I know our linebackers are going to make the play if I turn them back in,” Hunter said. “And I love having Keaten (Wade) back. He’s another big body to help us stop up the line. I wish we’d had him all year, but we got him at the most important time.”
After surrendering 264 yards on the ground last week, Summit’s rush defense was stellar on Friday. The Patriots ran for just 86 yards, but found success through the air as quarterback Ryan Damron and receiver Jawon Odoms — the latter a Memphis commit — connected 10 times for 202 yards, 117 of which came on two plays. The pair hooked up for a 66-yard touchdown on the Patriots’ first drive of the third quarter to give their team a 14-7 lead, but it was short-lived.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Wade tossed a short pass to Brady Pierce at the line of scrimmage, and 76 yards later, Pierce pulled his team back even.
“I told Destin I was going to take it when he called the play,” Pierce said. “I didn’t think I was going to score, but he was giving me space and kept backing up. I was able to get into the open field and break a tackle.”
Summit forced a punt on Henry County’s next drive, and Destin Wade ran for 47 yards and completed a second-and-11 pass to Caleb Jolley to set up a Pierce 33-yard scamper to pay dirt, putting the Spartans back in front for good.
Wade put the icing on the cake with a pair of fourth quarter touchdown runs for Summit.
“The spread is working,” Coleman said. “We just let him do his thing, and he’s protecting the football. He’s throwing it well, running it well. That’s the game plan going forward.”
Summit returns to Cookeville for a second straight championship game appearance, and this time a ‘hungry’ group of Spartans are treating it like a business trip.
“We had a celebration right here tonight, but these kids aren’t finished,” Coleman said. “Coming here, this isn’t an easy trip to come in and win with all the bells and whistles they’ve got going on. It’s a different feel right now, and we’ll approach it a little different this week than last year.”
Summit 35, Henry Co. 21
at Bill Hudson Field at Patriot Stadium
S 7 0 13 15 — 35
HC 0 7 7 7 — 21
|S – Brandon King 66 run (11:42) Ryan Crane kick|
|HC – Jermarcus Johnson 3 run (0:31) Darrius Stephens kick|
|HC – Jawon Odoms 66 pass from Ryan Damron (9:23) Stephens kick|
|S – Brady Pierce 76 pass from Destin Wade (8:30) Crane kick|
|S – Pierce 33 run (1:31) Crane kick|
|S – Wade 1 run (7:49) Wade run|
|HC – Johnson 7 run (6:28) Stephens kick|
|S – Wade 53 run (0:38) Crane kick|
|Summit – Destin Wade 24-221, Brandon King 6-70, Brady Pierce 2-40, Konata Werts 1-4, John Dippold 1-(-1)|
|Henry Co. – Jermarcus Johnson 26-94, Jayden Kendall 3-9, Ryan Damron 4-(-17)|
|Summit – Destin Wade 6-9-0 173|
|Henry Co. – Ryan Damron 16-26-0 309|
|Summit – Brady Pierce 2-89, Caleb Jolley 2-56, Zac Switzer 2-28|
|Henry Co. – Jawon Odoms 10-202, Sanchez Aldridge 1-61, Jayce Kendall 4-31, Damian Rushing 1-15|