Nolensville didn’t like the way the regular season ended.
But the Knights sure liked the way they played in the first round of the playoffs.
Nolensville ended a two-game losing streak with a 47-7 rout of visiting Macon County as the Knights scored three defensive touchdowns in Class 4A on Friday night.
The Knights (9-2) visit Livingston Academy (11-0), a 27-8 winner over Maplewood, in the second round next week.
“It just kind of shows how we don’t stay in the past,” Knights wide receiver/safety Tim Coutras said. “We focus on what’s next and for us to go get this big ‘W’ at home in the playoff game, it’s special.”
Coutras, a Titans Mr. Football semifinalist in Class 4A, played like one as the senior scored four touchdowns.
He scored on a 50-yard run, a 25-yard pass from Ryder Galardi, a 62-yard interception return and a 1-yard run after hauling in a 42-yard pass on the previous play.
“Tim’s a phenomenal football player,” Knights coach Paul Derrick said. “I think he’s one of the best two-way players in the state. He can do it all: he can run it, he can catch it, he plays safety on defense. He’s just a really solid football player and I think he showcased that ability tonight.”
Colton Dobson also scored on a 34-yard interception return as the Knights picked off four of Jon Mark Gammons’ passes. Louis Kondolios intercepted two, including one that set up a Nolensville TD in the second quarter.
“There were a couple times throughout the night early in the first half where we were a little reckless with the football and they made us pay,” Tigers coach Kyle Shoulders said. “They caused some turnovers and returned them for touchdowns, and that’s kind of the worst-case scenario when you put the ball in the air.”
Nolensville linebacker Ryan Pistulka returned a Gammons fumble 20 yards for the game’s final TD after a sack in the third quarter.
Galardi completed five of nine passes for 169 yards and two TDs.
Nolensville lost its last two regular-season games to Franklin and Marshall County before rebounding against Macon County (5-6).
“We wanted to get back to playing the football we know we’re capable of and Franklin and Marshall, those are two challenging opponents,” Derrick said. “You’ve got to play those games to kind of prepare you for the playoffs. We kind of regrouped this week.”
The Knights seized a 34-0 halftime lead, including 27 second-quarter points. Two of their early TDs came on pick-sixes by Dobson and Coutras.
“Every week we pride ourselves on defense and Coach Derrick makes goals that we should get turnovers each and every game,” Coutras said of the Knights’ 3-4 defense.
Coutras is the third Mr. Football semifinalist the Tigers have faced, including Livingston Academy quarterback Will McDonald and Forrest running back Nick McClendon (3A). Macon County played Forrest in the preseason and Livingston last week.
“All three deserve it,” Shoulders said. “(Coutras) is a special player, for sure. We had a good idea that they were probably going to try to showcase him a little bit tonight and try to give him the football.”
Running back Isaac Belton was the Tigers’ workhorse, rushing for 155 yards and one TD on 25 carries.
“The first half I didn’t play too good, so I guess the second half kind of canceled it out,” Belton said. “Coach told us just always believe and don’t go down without fighting. It reminded me of when I was a little boy, my dad always told me – because he’s a short guy and he was always smaller than everybody else, and he’d end up in a fight with a big guy, but he’d never back down. And I knew I was against a bigger opponent, but I couldn’t back down. I just had to keep fighting.”