LAKE CITY — Jordan Smith threw four touchdown passes and ran for another, and No. 2 Columbia High scored 31 consecutive points to dominate Neptune Beach Fletcher High, 38-10, Friday night in the Region 1-7A quarterfinal.
Three weeks after barely edging Fletcher, 21-20 at home, the Tigers' postseason debut was a largely uncontested race. There would be no recount necessary in this run against the Senators.
“We underestimated them the first time around,” Columbia coach Brian Allen said. “We put in a lot of work to expose some things we could capitalize on this time.”
After a failed first drive for Columbia, Fletcher marched down the field, methodically moving the chains to settle inside the Tigers’ 10-yard line. Columbia’s defense held, and Fletcher settled for a 3-0 lead on a 24-yard field goal.
That’s when the Tigers, led by Smith, went to work.
Columbia responded with a quick, five-play drive finished by Smith’s over-the-top connection to junior Marquez Bell for a 39-yard touchdown pass. In just 1:25 of game time, the Tigers took the lead, 7-3.
Before the opening quarter ended, Smith struck again. On third-and-10 from the Senators’ 22, the junior ran right, then threw across his body to Lanadrick Bradley, who had shed his defender and stood alone on the one-yard line. Bradley hauled it in and crossed the plane for a 14-0 advantage.
“The thing we haven’t done the last four or five weeks, that we did well early in the season, was throw it over the top,” Allen said. “We have very good receivers. We needed to go back to the drawing board and do the things that we do well.”
The Tigers went back to that drawing board all night. Less than four minutes into the second quarter, senior T.J. Jones broke free down the visitors’ sideline and caught a 27-yard toss from Smith to make the score 21-3. Columbia held that margin through halftime.
“It makes it easy on me,” Smith said about the Tigers’ trio of receivers scoring early touchdowns. “We threw it a lot tonight. Our line was great tonight, as well.”
Smith opened the second half attacking the Senators with his legs. A 12-yard scramble put the ball on the Fletcher one. The next play, he dove forward for six more points, to put Columbia ahead 28-3.
A Garrett Fennell 25-yard field goal capped the Tigers’ uninterrupted scoring surge. Early in the fourth, Myles Montgomery scored on a seven-yard run for Fletcher.
But Columbia had one more aerial attack left. With under a minute remaining, Smith went vertical again to Jones, who made a skillful grab in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard score.
In all, Smith completed 26 of 48 passes for four touchdowns and 449 yards. He also ran 11 times for 95 yards and one score.
Columbia (10-1) advances to face Jacksonville Lee in next Friday’s Region 1-7A semifinal in Lake City.