Story and Video By MICHAEL CURTIS | Photos By VANESSA BEACH
Football is officially back, and what has become known as the “Battle of the Hill” did not disappoint.
After trailing 20-7 in the fourth quarter, the Spring Hill Raiders fought their way back to defeat the Summit Spartans, 21-20.
“We fell asleep on a couple of plays and they hit us with two touchdowns and that’s something you don’t see a lot of,” Spring Hill head coach Jay Emmons said. “They’re a resilient bunch and they want to win, it’s just sometimes we have to wake them up and get them to play to their potential.”
In a game that featured two of the top running backs in Middle Tennessee, the ground game on both sides was highly effective. Spring Hill RB Dontae Smith carried the ball 17 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Summit RB Tai Carter rushed 22 times for 115 yards, while also picking up 54 passing yards.
The Spartans came out very aggressive on the first drive of the game, which led to a 1-yard rushing touchdown by QB Ethan Cash. Spring Hill led 7-0 after the first quarter.
On the other side, Spring Hill struggled for nearly the entire first half. However, if there was one bright spot, it was defensive lineman Jacquise Oglesby. He was a huge part of a defense that forced Summit to fumble three times.
“Our offensive and defensive line picked it up in the fourth quarter,” Oglesby said. “When I saw my running back get going, it boosted our confidence and we were able to go after this win.”
After halftime, Summit came out to kick and recover an onside kick. Immediately on the next play, Carter hit John Casey for a huge 40-yard touchdown connection to send the Spartans up 14-0 with 11:47 left in the second quarter.
Spring Hill’s Smith started to gain momentum in the third quarter with a few big runs that eventually resulted in a 12-yard touchdown with 1:23 left in the 3rd quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Summit’s Nick Johnson caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Carter for a 20-7 lead. The extra point kick was missed, which would come back to bite the Spartans.
Spring Hill came within a touchdown when Thomas ran for 48-yards to bring the score to 20-14 with 8:06 left in the game.
The Raiders tied the game with a 1-yard touchdown run by T.J. Ennis with 3:54 left in the game. Brenton Basnaw’s extra point sealed the victory.
“I thought the effort was there, we just have to clean it up,” Summit head coach Brian Coleman said.
“We need to make more big plays, and when we do, we can’t have a penalty to push us back. We fought hard, and a lot of people got playing time. We can’t let this game snowball into next week and the week after. It’s an important game, a crosstown rivalry, but this game doesn’t make or break our season.”
Spring Hill (1-0) will face Columbia (1-0) on Aug. 25. Summit (0-1) will attempt to capture its first victory in its home-opener next week against Independence (0-1).