Spartans reach third consecutive BlueCross Bowl game, to face fellow unbeaten Oakland for title
HENDERSONVILLE – Summit has made a habit of closing out big games in the past couple of seasons and that trait paid off again Friday.
The Spartans shut out host Hendersonville in the second half and pulled away for a 28-7 victory to send them to the Class 6A BlueCross Bowl in Chattanooga next Saturday.
Summit (14-0) took advantage of 100-yard rushing games from both Keaten Wade (12 carries, 139 yards) and Destin Wade (13 carries, 122 yards, two touchdowns) in advancing to the school’s third consecutive state championship game, but its first in the largest classification.
“We’ve been waiting for this all year,” Keaten Wade said. “We expected to be here in this position, and I feel really blessed to be in this position. We’ve just got to finish it out at the end together.”
The Wade twins scored three of Summit’s four touchdowns, with Brady Pierce adding the other. Destin found Keaten out of the backfield for the game’s initial score, connecting on a 55-yard pass to put Summit up 7-0 with 4:38 left in the first quarter.
“We ran into a team that’s as advertised,” Hendersonville head coach James Beasley said. “They’re really good and best of luck to them as they move on. Proud of our kids and the way they played.”
Torin Baker led the Commandos with 174 rushing yards on 19 carries, including Hendersonville’s lone touchdown, a 61-yarder that came on the next play following the Spartans’ first score.
“I think the defense, once we figured out the speed of their game – (Ellis Ellis and Torin Baker) are really, really fast – the defense did a good job of settling in,” Summit head coach Brian Coleman said.
Destin Wade scored on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs in the second quarter, but the Commandos were driving late in the half looking to pull closer by halftime. Hendersonville got inside Summit’s 5-yard line with time winding down, but a fourth-down pass from Luke Manning was intercepted by Aden Byrd in the end zone as the half ended with the Spartans leading 20-7.
“We didn’t want to give (Summit) the ball back, so we ran (the clock) down to make sure it was the last play. It was something we had worked on and executed in practice, but they read it and made a play,” Beasley said. “Then in the second half, we got something going only to be unable to finish. Just too many times, we’d get the ball in plus territory and not be able to finish.”
Hendersonville got no closer, stalling out to begin the second half and fighting an uphill battle while the Spartans’ rushing attack was rolling downhill. Summit averaged 8.5 yards per carry, running to the tune of 279 yards on 33 carries.
“We just know what we have to do when it comes down to the moment,” Summit senior offensive lineman Cooper Koch said. “We do our job, and we know our block’s important that play and every block on every play’s important and we push through it.”
The Commando defense began the game with a spark, stopping Destin Wade short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
“That first drive was really frustrating, not being able to get (in the end zone),” Destin Wade said. “But we knew if we were driving the ball on them like that, we could keep it going.”
Hendersonville, however, was unable to capitalize on that stop, getting one first down before punting.
Summit forced two Commando turnovers – Byrd’s interception and a fumble recovery by Maddox Reed.
Now, the Spartans head to Chattanooga for a battle of unbeaten teams when they face Oakland on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
“All they want is a shot, just a shot at it,” Coleman said. “That’s what we’ve earned to get there, so it’ll be fun.”