An early two-touchdown deficit did little to deter Columbia Central.
The Lions clamped down on Ooltewah after its quick start and defeated the Owls 31-13 in a Class 5A football playoff quarterfinal Friday.
Columbia (11-2) will host Powell in a semifinal next Friday.
The Lions didn’t score their first points until 5:55 before the half, but then they crammed 17 in before halftime and took a four-point lead.
Chris Martin scored the first points on a 5-yard run, and Matthew Markham passed to Dre Hall over the middle for a 57-yard touchdown.
Ooltewah (9-4) had the ball at its 16 to start a possession 55 seconds before halftime. After quarterback Brody Binder was sacked for a 6-yard loss, the Owls called timeout. On the next play, Hall intercepted Binder at Ooltewah’s 25, and it led to Nolan Bone’s 42-yard field goal.
“There were not really any adjustments,” Columbia coach Howard Stone said. “We just started making plays.”
The Lions got a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter from workhouse Martin, who finished with 120 yards on 27 carries. They tacked on a late touchdown with 1:30 to play.
After a Columbia three-and-out to start the game, Ooltewah’s first possession began at its 42. It started with six consecutive runs by Desmond Pittman covering 33 yards.
“He scared us,” Stone said. “We finally began flying to the ball.”
Binder’s first pass was a lob to Mike Williams, who outjumped the defender in the end zone on third-and-14 from the Lions’ 29.