Columbia knew what it needed to do against Central on Thursday night at Memorial Stadium to remain a factor in Region 4-2A.
But an injury to starting quarterback Kevin Davis last week left the Capitals without its best offensive weapon. That turned out to be key as the Eagles dominated early for a 42-27 victory in the regular season finale to win the region title outright.
Davis bruised his hip in a loss to Keenan last week and was in uniform, but Columbia coach Kemper Amick decided to keep his senior signal caller on the sidelines. The hope is Davis will be ready to play in the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs next week when Columbia (7-3, 3-2) will open on the road.
"We look at things with Davis and if we played him and he got hurt, he would be done for the year," Amick said. "He can throw and do a lot of things, but running it is where he was having difficulty. We feel he should be ready next week."
Without Davis in the lineup, the Capitals' ground attack was non-existent. With the exception of one drive late in the second quarter, the passing attack was nearly the same when Central (8-2, 5-0) jumped to a 24-6 lead.
Columbia was held to minus-23 yards rushing in the first half. McArtha Thompson was shaky at quarterback until he directed a seven-play, 58-yard drive just before the half to give the Capitals their lone first-half score.
Thompson was 6-for-7 on the drive and connected with Casey Gladney on a 9-yard scoring toss. Thompson finished 14-for-28 for 191 yards in his relief role.
The Eagles had 297 of its 533 yards in the first half, with much of it coming from an unexpectedly stellar passing game.
Jowan Henderson completed his first six passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Central has now won 22 region titles in the past 34 years and will host a first-round game next week.
Central 8 16 6 12 - 42
Columbia 0 6 13 8 - 27
CEN - Safety, ball snapped out of end zone 10:03
CEN - Jiwan Funderburk 36 pass from Jowan Henderson (pass failed) :04
CEN - Kegan Funderburk 19 pass from Henderson (Mardu Smith run) 10:23
CEN - Jerel Blakeney 4 run (Blakeney pass from Henderson) 3:38
COL - Casey Gladney 9 pass from McArtha Thompson (pass failed) 1:35
COL - Gladney 9 run (kick failed) 8:07
CEN - Blakeney 5 run (pass failed) 5:10
COL - Thompson 1 run (Thompson kick) 4:05
CEN - Smith 5 run (pass failed) 11:08
COL - Gladney 3 pass from Thompson (Gladney pass from Thompson) 7:56
CEN - De'aja Blakeney 3 run (run failed) 3:02
First Downs 21 12
Rushes-yds 54-371 17-27
Passing yds 162 191
Comp-Att-Int 7-11-0 14-28-1
Punts 0-0 2-46.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties 11-74 4-20
Rushing-CEN: Radford Robinson 15-78, Jerel Blakeney 8-43, Mardu Smith 18-148, Rodney Kirkland 4-40, Jowan Henderson 4-25, Michael Nivens 1-20, De'aja Blakeney 4-17. C0LA: DeErik Bradley 5-14, Roderick Weeks 1-(-2), McArtha Thompson 7-19, Casey Gladney 2-11, Team 2-(-15)..
Passing - CEN: J. Henderson 7-11-0-162. COLA: M. Thompson 14-28-1-191.
Receiving-CEN: Kegan Funderburk 5-123, Jiwan Funderburk 1-36, M. Smith 1-3. COLA: Casey Gladney 7-83, Justin Metze 3-44, Christian Reed 3-55, D. Bradley 1-9.