NOLENSVILLE – After its first two drives, Livingston Academy looked ready to give Nolensville a battle Friday night.
But the Knights had other plans, scoring on each of their first four possessions on the way to a 38-14 win in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“I do think we’re playing the best football we’ve played this year,” Nolensville coach Paul Derrick said. “It’s playoff time, so that’s when you want to be doing that, and that’s exciting.”
Nolensville quarterback Ryder Galardi threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, and Samson Johnson ran for 110 yards and a touchdown in the lopsided win. The Knights move on to face DeKalb County in the second round next week.
The Wildcats got off to a great start, holding the ball for nearly nine minutes of the first quarter and scoring a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Livingston Academy converted two fourth-down attempts on the 14-play drive.
“They put a lot of extra linemen in the game and that gave us some problems, so we had to make adjustments,” Derrick said. “Once we settled in and started playing faster, we started to have some success.”
Derrick’s defense responded, however, holding Livingston Academy to a missed field goal try on its second drive and nothing else until late in the second half. The Wildcats were just 2-of-11 on third down conversions for the game and both Grant Reeder and Taylor Wien picked up sacks for Nolensville.
Meanwhile, the Knights’ offense didn’t squander their early opportunities and looked to be in a solid rhythm racking up 418 yards. Galardi finished with 213 yards and the three TDs on 13-of-18 passing.
“For whatever reason, it’s taken us throughout the season to get into that rhythm, but we’re finally starting to click on all cylinders,” Derrick said.
After building a 28-7 halftime advantage, Nolensville kept the pressure on, getting a field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter to go up 31-7. The Knights did not punt until the five-minute mark in the third quarter, showing their effectiveness offensively.
Nolensville’s final points came on a 27-yard TD pass from Galardi to Brayden Rose with 1:38 left in the third.
The Wildcats, however, didn’t cross midfield again until late in the fourth quarter after an interception of Nolensville backup QB Coby Walton was returned to the Knights’ 18-yard line.
Livingston Academy scored on a Nathan Cowgill-to-Bryer Mosley 20-yard TD pass to make it 38-14 with just over three minutes to go in the game.