Despite ending the first half in a flurry, the Nolensville football team’s hopes of playing for their first state championship slipped away in the second half at Elizabethton Friday in the Class 4A semifinals.
The Fighting Cyclones claimed a 34-12 victory behind four touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Bryson Rollins. Elizabethton will play Springfield Saturday in Cookeville for the BlueCross Bowl Championship.
The Knights gave up the first two touchdowns and had two interceptions in the first quarter on the road against unbeaten Elizabethton (14-0), but scored back-to-back touchdowns in the final four minutes of the half to pull within 14-12 at the break.
Ryan Pistulka punched in the visiting team’s first TD with 3:49 to play. The extra point missed, but with seven seconds left in the half, quarterback Ryder Galardi tossed a touchdown pass to Parker Price. The two-point conversion failed, but Nolensville pulled right back into the contest.
Early in the first half, Mr. Football Finalist Tim Coutras exited with a knee injury for the Knights. Elizabethton scored shortly after when Rollins connected with Tony Parker Hughes for the first of three touchdowns without the do-all senior on the field.
Coutras did not return.
Cade Maupin scored on a 6-yard run with 8:04 in the third to make it 20-12. Hughes first touchdown reception of the final frame came with 8:12 to play to extend the lead to 27-12. His 20-yarder with 3:34 sealed the game following a fourth-down stop.
Hughes finished with five catches for 81 yards and those three scores. Rollins was an efficient 6-of-8 for 97 yards passing and also gained 29 yards on the ground with a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Maupin led the ground game with 90 yards on 19 carries for the Fighting Cyclones, who held Nolensville to 213 yards.
Pistulka had 46 yards on 13 carries for the Knights and also became the primary target in the passing game without Coutras on the field, snagging four catches for 42 yards. Galardi completed 10-of-17 passes for 99 yards with one TD and two picks.
Price finished with three grabs and 19 yards with his TD.
Dan Rickert and CJ Ware anchored the defense with eight tackles apiece, while Grant Reeder had seven stops and one sack.
The Knights finished the season 11-3 overall and a win away from playing for a state championship in just the fourth year of the young school's existence.
Nolensville made history for its program Friday night, reaching the Class 4A football semifi…
Elizabethton 34, Nolensville 12, Class 4A Semifinals
NHS – 0 12 0 0 – 12
EHS – 7 7 6 14 – 34
1Q 2:26 E – Tony Parker Hughes 7 pass from Bryson Rollins (Jaxton Holly kick);
2Q 8:43 E – Rollins 3 run (Holly kick);
2Q 3:49 N – Ryan Pistulka 4 run (kick failed);
2Q 0:07 N – Parker Price pass from Ryder Galardi (pass failed);
3Q 8:04 E – Cade Maupin 6 run (kick failed);
4Q 8:12 E – Hughes 27 pass from Rollins (Holly kick);
4Q 3:34 E – Hughes 20 pass from Rollins (Holly kick).