A strong defensive performance helped the Nolensville Knights (7-0, 3-0 Region 6) overcome a slow start on their way to a shutout win over the still winless Spring Hill Raiders (0-7, 0-3).
Spring Hill could not crack the code on Nolensville’s defense, mustering only 76 yards of total offense and committing three turnovers, all fumbles that were recovered by Nolensville outside linebacker Taylor Wein. Two of those lost fumbles were costly, leading directly to touchdowns on the very next drive.
Meanwhile, running back Samson Johnson rushed for two touchdowns and 77 yards on 18 carries, while quarterback Coby Walton threw three touchdown passes in the second half for the Knights. Walton finished 18-25 for 257 yards.
“We’re going to enjoy this win. It wasn’t pretty at times, but we’re still undefeated so I’m not going to complain too much about that,” Nolensville head coach Paul Derrick said. “We did not play well early, and we played a little bit undisciplined. We wanted to start faster, and we did not do that tonight.”
Spring Hill was dealt a blow early in the game, when it initially appeared as if Raiders defensive back Scott Carter plucked a deflected pass from Walton near the line of scrimmage and returned it for a touchdown at the 7:02 mark in the first quarter.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, the sideline official accidentally blew the play dead and Spring Hill was instead forced to start a new drive from near midfield.
The Raiders failed to capitalize, and the game remained scoreless after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter, Nolensville’s offense finally started moving the ball downfield. Johnson capped off two scoring drives with short-distance touchdown runs of five yards and three yards, respectively, to give the Knights a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Then Spring Hill’s offensive miscues began to pile up in the second half while the Knights began to chop away at the Raiders’ defense through the air in the second half.
A botched option handoff deep in their own territory led to a fumble that Wein hopped on to give the Knights possession just outside of the red zone early in the third quarter. Moments later, Walton connected with wide receiver Eric Harper for a 17-yard touchdown pass to extend the Nolensville lead to 21-0 with 7:23 left in the third quarter.
And then with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, it was Wein again who recovered another Spring Hill fumble to put the Knights offense back on the field. Walton quickly made the Raiders pay, fooling the defense on a play action and hitting wide receiver Chance Fitzgerald in stride for a 47-yard score to blow the game wide open.
“Those turnovers were huge for us and helped us flip the field there for our offense and gave them a chance to score,” Derrick said. “Our defense has played really well all year and especially these past few weeks, including tonight.”
Now the Knights will set their sights on a massive regional showdown at home against Page, which will be televised on MyTV30 on Oct. 7. Both teams are unbeaten and sit tied atop the Region 6 standings–the winner will be in the driver’s seat to win the regional title.
“They are a really good football team–a big, physical team that will be a challenge for us,” Derrick said about the upcoming game against Page. “We’re going to have to play a really good game to beat them–that means we have to clean up the mistakes, cut down on the penalties and execute better.”
Meanwhile, Spring Hill is still looking for their first win of the season and they will host Franklin County, who will be looking for their third straight victory.