SPRING HILL — Reminiscent of their 2018 meeting, visiting Columbia Central seized an early lead in Friday's Region 5-5A clash with Summit.
And for the second straight year, the Lions were unable to close the deal, as the ninth-ranked Spartans improved to 3-0 with a 34-14 comeback victory.
"Summit's a good football team," Central coach Jason Hoath said after his squad lost for the first time this season. "They battled back and wore us down in the second half."
The Lions took advantage of a big return of the opening kickoff and converted on a 41-yard drive, with sophomore Christian Biggers scoring from a yard out. Biggers, who rushed for 32 yards on the opening possession, finished with 80 yards on 13 carries on the night.
"(Biggers) ran the ball hard," Hoath said. "Our offensive line did a good job in the run game. We have to build off him and keep working."
On the Lions' next possession, they converted on third-and-20 from their own 32-yard line with Dane Sykes and Steven Kinnard hooking up for a 68-yard score and a 14-0 cushion — still less than eight minutes into the game.
"I don't like these slow starts," Summit coach Brian Coleman said. "It's starting to weigh on us. We've got to stop waiting 14 points or however many points before we start playing."
From that point on, though, the hosts clicked on both sides of the ball.
Destin Wade threw the first of his four touchdown passes, connecting with twin brother Keaten Wade for a 4-yard score midway through the second quarter to get the Spartans on the board.
Central answered less than three minutes later, getting into the end zone on another Sykes-to-Kinnard pass play. However, an offensive penalty negated the TD, and eventually the Lions were forced to punt.
That was as close as Columbia Central came to scoring for the rest of the night.
Wade threw for eight yards to Andrew Pierce, then ran for the game-tying 2-point conversion with 90 seconds remaining in the half.
The sophomore threw for two more scores in the second half — including a 58-yarder to Pierce and 28-yarder to George Odimegwu in the fourth quarter to put the contest out of reach. Odimegwu made a sensational play at the back of the end zone to pull down the throw by Wade, who finished with 267 yards on 16-of-19 accuracy.
"I told him before the play, I told him to just throw it up and I'm going to go get it," Odimegwu said. "Everything was clicking all week. We knew coming into this game we had a chance to have a big night."
Typically known for their punishing ground game, the Spartans finished with 111 rushing yards on 33 attempts. Coleman acknowledged the impact his quarterback has on the offensive playcalling.
"I'd love to run the ball a lot more, especially in the second half," he said. "But when Destin (Wade) is protecting the ball like he did, we are going to let him play."
Central finished with 177 offensive yards in suffering its first loss.
"We can't let this define our season," Hoath said. "We have to look past this and get back to work."
Summit 34, Columbia Central 14
S – 0 14 7 13 – 34
C – 14 0 0 0 – 14
C — Christian Biggers 1 run (6:58), Max Patton kick
C — Steven Kinnard 68 pass from Dane Sykes (4:06), Patton kick
S — Keaten Wade 4 pass from Destin Wade (6:51); kick failed
S — Andrew Pierce 8 pass from Destin Wade (1:31); Destin Wade run
S — Pierce 58 pass from Destin Wade (9:02); Elijah Mooney kick
S — George Odimegwu 28 pass from Destin Wade (8:25); kick failed
S — Grayson Hill 24 run (2:58); Mooney kick
First downs 10 19
Rushes-yards 27-92 33-111
Passing yards 85 267
Comps-Atts-Ints 8-18-0 16-19-0
Penalties-yards 7-55 1-5
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Columbia Central — Christian Biggers 13-80, De'Andre Cathey 5-13, Kaelen Hill 3-2, Dane Sykes 6-(-3)
Summit — Keaten Wade 11-75, Grayson Hill 1-24, George Odimegwu 5-21, Ashton Lebel 2-2, Andrew Pierce 2-1 Destin Wade 7-(-5), Tre Hunter 5-(-7)
Columbia Central — Dane Sykes 8-18-1 85
Summit — Destin Wade 16-19-4 267
Columbia Central — Steven Kinnard 4-74, Blake Simmons 3-12, Christian Biggers 1-(-1)
Summit — George Odimegwu 8-128, Andrew Pierce 2-68, Grayson Hill 2-43, Keaten Wade 2-16, Zac Switzer 1-9, Ashton Lebel 1-5