NOLENSVILLE — Sloppy wins are still wins, and despite several miscues Friday night, Nolensville was able to overcome those en route to a 30-14 win over Spring Hill at home to begin Region 4-4A play.
With six minutes to go in the game, Spring Hill got to Knights’ punter Mike McWilliams, taking him down at his own 19-yard-line and setting the Raiders up with a chance to make it a one-possession game. Nolensville’s defense had other plans.
The Knights sacked Spring Hill quarterback Luka Boylan for a 13-yard loss; a short run and two incomplete passes followed, sealing the win.
“We played sloppy tonight, no doubt,” Nolensville coach Paul Derrick said. “It’s a lot of different factors that play into that, but that’s no excuse. Everybody is dealing with the same situations, and we have to overcome those.”
Throughout the first half, Nolensville struggled to find a groove on offense, as Spring Hill’s defense played tough. Two first-half interceptions, including one in the end zone near the end of the half, gave the Raiders a boost, but the offense couldn’t capitalize.
“Our defense played tough,” Spring Hill coach Ben Martin said. “We still have depth problems and not being able to give our guys much rest eventually wore us down.”
The Raiders held Nolensville to 249 total yards of offense in the game, but managed only 141 total yards themselves.
Nolensville scored two of its first-half touchdowns on short fields. After picking off Boylan at the Raiders’ 18-yard-line, quarterback Ryder Galardi hit Gage Skipper on a quick pass over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
The Knights then forced a punt before driving 58 yards on nine plays with Samson Johnson capping the drive with a 2-yard run to make it 14-0.
Spring Hill answered on the ensuing drive, going 84 yards on seven plays, aided by a 53-yard pass from Boylan to Joel Herring. On third-and-long following a penalty, Boylan used his legs to scramble for a first down, and Kaiden Martin finished the drive with a 5-yard run.
On the ensuing kickoff, however, Ben Coggin set up the Knights nicely, taking the ball all the way to the Spring Hill 35-yard-line. Johnson, on his second consecutive carry, found paydirt to extend the lead to 21-7.
Coming out of halftime, the Knights stuffed a pair of runs and forced a punt before driving 61 yards for a touchdown on their first possession of the second half. Galardi completed a 16-yard pass to Coggin on third-and-long to extend the drive before the senior signal caller walked into the end zone on a bootleg for a score. The Knights added a safety on the next drive, meeting Raider running back Landen Secrest in the backfield as soon as he touched the ball on two straight plays.
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In the fourth quarter, Nolensville attempted to punt three times, but twice — due to bad snaps — Raider defenders were able to get to McWilliams before he could get the kick off.
Spring Hill took full advantage the first time, going just 25 yards on six plays to cut the lead to 30-14. That was as close as the Raiders would get, and Martin said his team has to learn to finish when given those opportunities.
“We had a good game plan for them offensively, but we have to learn to execute,” he said.
Derrick said his team will take off on Monday and regroup as they have an open date next week. He challenged his team in the postgame huddle to make up its mind on the kind of team they want to be.
“I told them that we will go as far as they want to go, but they have to make up their mind now about if they want to be a team that scrapes by and gets the wins they’re supposed to get or if they want more,” he said.
Nolensville will return to action in Week 5 in another region matchup against Lawrence County. Spring Hill returns home next week to take on Lincoln County.