Franklin was trying to call a blitz on the final play, but couldn’t get it called through all the commotion.
But defensive back Cooper Grills found a way to make the game’s biggest play, deflecting Ryder Galardi’s two-point conversion pass with no time left on the clock.
That gave Nolensville its first defeat of the season as Franklin held on for a rainy 25-23 homecoming win Friday night.
“Great play, especially for him,” Rebels coach Donnie Webb said of Grills, a 6-foot-1 senior. “That’s a kid that we moved to defense this year and he’s played really well. He’s like anybody else – we’ve all had some bad plays, but, man, to be there at the end, I’m proud for Cooper.”
Nolensville (8-1), a third-year program, drove 56 yards to narrow the deficit to 25-23 when Galardi threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tim Coutras in the right corner of the end zone as time expired.
Samson Johnson’s 42-yard kickoff return gave the Knights great field position at the Nolensville 44 to start the drive.
“I’ve just got to put the ball in a better spot for our athletes like Tim to make the play,” Galardi said. “I just made a bad throw.”
But the junior made plenty of good ones, completing 19 of 34 passes for 270 yards and two TDs.
“I think it will be good for our team,” Coutras said of the loss. “It’s a wake-up call and for it come close to the playoffs, I think it will be good for us.”
Coutras’ grandfather, Nick, coached Overton the Class AAA state title in 1981.
Galardi’s 64-yard TD pass to Ben Coggin tied the game at 17 with 5:34 left in the third quarter.
Franklin (4-5) took the lead for good on Ian Burr’s 36-yard field goal with 8:50 left.
The Rebels added a safety and Burr’s third field goal, a 43-yarder with 2:41 remaining, increased Franklin’s lead to 25-17.
Guy Lipscomb was the workhorse for the Rebels, rushing for 124 yards on 32 carries, many out of the wildcat formation.
“I guess in the NFL they’d have been giving him oxygen or something because it was, like, no, you’ve got to go again, you’ve got to go again,” Webb said.
Lipscomb also intercepted a Galardi pass and returned it 25 yards for a TD, giving Franklin a 17-10 lead with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
“That was crazy,” Lipscomb said of the game. “We like to keep it close. Defense kept us in it all night.”
Franklin has rebounded from a four-game losing streak with wins in three of its last four outings.
Nolensville visits Marshall County in next week’s regular-season finale that will decide the Region 4-4A title. Both teams are 4--0 in league play.
“I told them we’ve got to clean some things up and we’ve got to get over this one quickly,” Knights coach Paul Derrick said. “I want them to remember what it feels like because we hadn’t lost all year. They hadn’t had that feeling, so now they’ve got it and I don’t think there’s any better way to learn from your mistakes than losing a football game that, really, you got a good chance to win.”
Franklin defensive back Jett Wilson missed the game with an undisclosed injury.