LAKE CITY — It was one of those games coaches circle before the season begins, a nemesis whose time or whose streak needs to end.
But District 2-7A rival Robert E. Lee out of Jacksonville didn’t go easily.
The Generals made a desperate rally in the fourth quarter, led by senior quarterback Cameron Sapp, but in the end, Columbia’s lead was just too great.
With its standout junior quarterback Jordan Smith knocked out and sidelined in the second half, sophomore quarterback Ty Wehinger stepped up and tossed a pair of touchdown passes to TJ Jones, and strong safety Anmad Williams had perhaps the biggest play of the game in a wild 42-37 Tigers win Friday night.
Considering it has been Lee that has won the district title the last two years, beating the Generals was big victory for No. 2 Columbia (4-0). Although it came at a cost.
“He’s going to be fine, he’s in concussion protocol,” CHS coach Brian Allen said of Smith, who took a vicious hit from Lee defender Deshaun Davis as the quarterback was making a scrambling play near the end of the first half. “We tried to get the gameplan ready for Ty to be successful in the second half.
“We don’t train just one kid here, we make sure we have the second one ready as well. He (Wehinger) is one of the smartest kids in our program. He understands this offense up, down, left, right.”
Williams had one of the many highlight plays of the game, stripping the ball from Lee running back Kevonte Doles and returning it 75 yards for a touchdown, and a 28-14 Columbia lead.
“He was holding the ball really loose and I stripped it and I caught it, and I didn’t know if they blew it (whistle) or not, so I just took off running,” Williams said. “There was a lot of green grass.
“We focused on turnovers all week. The first man gets the tackle and the second man strips the ball.”
With a two-touchdown lead at half (28-14), Columbia was able to stay ahead of the Generals, who also have an explosive offense.
Wehinger's 26-yard TD strike to Jones, a highly-touted wide receiver who has over 30 offers (including UF), gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the game.
The two reconnected early in the fourth, when Jones, taking in a quick out, turned it into a highlight-filled run in which he broke through several tackle attempts for a 61-yard scoring play.
Marquez Bell opened the game with a 36-yard TD pass from Jordan Smith, and the quarterback also run for a pair of scores, including a 10-yarder in which he broke away from several tackle attempts.
Games don’t get any easier for Columbia, which hosts Class 1A No. 1 and defending state champion Madison County next Friday, then goes to Jacksonville to face 5A power Trinity Christian.
Neither of those are district games.
“Every week you want to win,” Allen said. “Hopefully, he (Smith) gets on the protocol. He gets the rest the first two days, and three days of jogging, and maybe he will be good to go, if there are no symptoms.
“We have our figures crossed. If not, we will get Ty Wehinger ready to go.”
Lee; 7; 7; 6; 17;—37
Columbia; 14; 14; 7; 7—42
C - Marquez Bell 36 pass from Jordan Smith (Garrett Fennell kick)
L - Tahveon Nicholson 4 run (Clivenson Orelus kick)
C - Jordan Smith 10 run (Fennell kick)
L - Jurial Caldwell 10 pass from Cameron Sapp (Orelus kick)
C - Smith 29 run (Fennell kick)
C - Ahmad Williams 75 fumble return (Fennell kick)
C - TJ Jones 26 from Ty Wehinger (Fennell kick)
L - Terry Mckinney 9 pass from Sapp (kick failed)
C - Jones 61 pass from Wehinger (Fennell kick)
L - Nicholson 38 pass from Sapp (Raekwon Simmons run)
L - Safety, Columbia punter Fennell runs out of end zone
L - Kevonte Doles 32 pass from Sapp (Orelus kick)