A second-straight run to the state championship game is now one win away for the Summit Spartans.
Junior quarterback and 5A Mr. Football finalist Destin Wade was responsible for every Spartan score and all but 36 yards of their total offense in a 36-29 win over the Beech Buccaneers.
Wade threw for 218 yards and four touchdowns—none bigger than a game-winning 9-yard strike to Caleb Jolley with 0:27 to play as Summit advances to its second consecutive state semifinal.
“I’d say the word is persevere,” Summit head coach Brian Coleman told Home Page in his best effort to channel his enthusiasm. “So proud of our team!”
Wade also added 196 rushing yards and a touchdown in the win.
Both teams jumped to an explosive start, scoring on their respective opening drives. Wade connected with Jolley for the first of two touchdowns on the night between the two, this one on a 45-yard strike to give the Spartans an early 7-0 lead.
The hosting Buccaneers immediately responded, tying the game just two plays later from scrimmage. The arm of Xaviere Jones (4-of-8, 98 yards, 1 TD) wasn’t needed much on the night, though came through in a 64-yard catch and dash by Tysean Jefferson who enjoyed a monster night with 226 yards of total offense, 2 TDs and a two-point conversion.
Summit had a chance to take the lead early in the second quarter, only to squander momentum. A 66-yard drive eating up 6:30 of game time saw the Spartans come up empty. Wade attempted to run it in on 4th-and-goal from the Beech 1, but had to fall on his own fumble as the Spartans turned the ball over on downs.
Beech made it count, marching 97 yards to the end zone. Jefferson had 70 of his 162 rushing yards on this drive alone, including a 19-yard run to give the Buccaneers a 14-7 lead with less than 3:00 to go in the half.
Wade and the Spartans made up for the previous snafu, tying the game in the span of five plays and just 1:22. Wade threw his second touchdown pass of the night, connecting with Brady Pierce on a 24-yard pass to tie the game at 14-14 heading into halftime.
The second half opened with Beech taking the lead and then threatening to blow the game open on the ensuing drive. Summit benefitted from favorable field position after Bucs kicker and punter Kevin Figueroa booted the kickoff out of bounds.
Once again, a Spartan trip into the end zone resulted in a fumble, this time with Beech linebacker Kanon Lewis diving on the drop from Wade to recover the ball at the Buccaneers 3-yard line.
Summit minimized the damage, holding Beech to a three-and-out and then rediscovering its swagger on the next possession. A run-heavy 55-yard drive ended with Wade finding the end zone from two yards out to tie the game at 21-21 with less than 14:00 to go in regulation.
Another timely stop was produced by the Spartans’ defense, with Jesse Brimeyer recovering a fumble by Darius Johnson (4 rushes, 48 yards, 1TD) at the Beech 41-yard line. Summit converted the lone Bucs turnover to points on the board, as Brandon King hauled in a 23-yard pass from Wade, just edging the outstretched arms of Beech cornerback Zak Oden to put the Spartans ahead 28-21 and 9:31 away from advancing to the semifinals.
Beech found a way to slow down the game, marching 75 yards on 11 straight run plays from scrimmage in more than 6:00 of game time.
Jefferson and Adrian Johnson comprised for every yard on the drive, with Johnson (9 rushes, 54 yards, 1 TD) scoring from one yard out. Jefferson added three more yards to his tally, storming in on a daring two-point conversion to give Beech a 29-28 lead with just 3:22 left in regulation.
It was just enough time for Wade to work his magic. The otherworldly and heavily recruited junior quarterback ran for 46 yards on Summit’s final drive, with two key pass plays sealing the win for the visiting Spartans.
An 8-yard completion to Konata Werts (2 receptions, 22 yards) on second down moved the chains with just 1:10 to go. Wade wisely spiked the ball to stop the clock, with Summit finding the end zone two plays later. Wade lofted a perfect 9-yard pass to the end zone, where Jolley cut inside a defending Jefferson to make a diving catch and give Summit a five-point lead with 0:27 to go.
“Destin had one heck of a game,” Coleman said of his stud field general.
Wade connected with Graham Schneider on a two-point conversion to put the Spartans ahead 36-29, relying on its defense to close the show.
“We definitely made (the Buccaneers) snap it over and over, limiting the big plays,” noted Coleman.
One last gasp by Beech—who amassed 362 yards of total offense on 49 plays—was ultimately stifled, never advancing beyond midfield as Summit was able to exhale four plays later.
“So proud of these guys,” exclaimed Coleman.
Summit ended the game with 448 yards of total offense on 56 plays, and enjoying a 24:41 to 22:04 edge in time of possession.
The win serves as a repeat of what the Spartans were able to accomplish one year ago after having never previously advanced beyond the state quarterfinals.
Summit will count their blessings during Thanksgiving week before once again hitting the road. The Spartans will travel to Paris, where they face the Region 7-A champion Henry County Patriots who won in a 39-7 rout of Clarksville Northeast to advance to the semifinals one year after falling just short at this very point in the season.
The winner will advance to the Blue Cross Bowl Class 5A championships on Dec. 4 at Tennessee Tech University in Crossville. Summit participated in its first-ever state finals last season, losing 30-7 to Knoxville Central who was eliminated in a 21-14 loss to South-Doyle on Friday.