Swept away: Nolensville falls to Elizabehton’s second-half storm

NOLENSVILLE — With two Class 4A Mr. Football finalists on offense, Elizabethton has been nearly impossible to stop all season, and this week was no different.

Thanks to big time performances from Troy Parker Hughes and Bryson Rollins, the Cyclones are heading to the 4A state championship game after handing Nolensville a 56-21 loss.

Elizabethton (14-0) picked apart the Nolensville defense from the opening drive, and capped it off with a 9-yard touchdown on a fade pass from Rollins to Hughes to give the Cyclones an early 7-0 lead. 

Throughout the game, Nolensville (8-4) didn’t have a ton of trouble moving the ball on offense, but penalties and other mistakes prevented them from being able to even keep up with the dynamic Cyclone offense. After a Knights punt, Elizabethton methodically drove the ball down the field and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run by Rollins to extend their lead to 14-0. 

Nolensville looked like they were primed to make this one a game, after getting inside the 20-yard line, but Elizabethton had other plans as Ryder Galardi was picked off just outside of the end zone by Cade Russell. Elizabethton capitalized off the turnover with Hughes’ 85-yard touchdown run.

“I knew we didn’t get Parker the ball enough last week,” Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten said of Hughes, “but we needed to get the running game going, and we knew he could get us the yards we needed. He’s really a force on the football field.” 

Nolensville quickly drove down the field and answered on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Galardi to Parker Price to cut the Elizabethton lead to 21-7. Price hauled in nine catches for 109 yards and a touchdown . 

Elizabethton showed the ability to create big passing plays on the ensuing drive, as Rollins hit Jake Roberts for a 61-yard score just before halftime to make it 28-7 going into the break. Roberts led the Cyclones with five catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, all coming in the first half.

Nolensville came out of the locker room looking determined offensively, driving down and scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run by Samson Johnson. Johnson finished with 90 yards on 20 carries.

When it appeared as though Nolensville had a chance to make it a game, Elizabethton scored and never looked back. Rollins ran in another touchdown to extend the Cyclone lead to 35-14. 

Another quick stop by Elizabethton led to another score, this time a 12-yard touchdown run by Hughes. Hughes ran for 188 yards on just 13 carries with two touchdowns, and he also had three catches for 33 yards and a score. 

Elizabethton put their backups in after Hughes’ second score with the outcome no longer in doubt. When the clock finally ran out, Elizabethton was on top 56-21, and there was nothing but joy on the sidelines, as they will get a chance to defend their 4A state championship.

“I really hurt for these kids,” Nolensville head coach Paul Derrick said. “We really came together this year and I’m really proud of that.”

Nolensville’s season comes to an end, as they will get ready for their move to 5A next season, while Elizabethton will play Haywood for the 4A title on Dec. 5.

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