We are officially into below freezing playoff football. The cold was piercing, the fans were bundled up, and the PA announcer reminded everyone that we could purchase hot chocolate and hand warmers at the concession stand. No such luxury for The Knights of Nolensville and Patriots of Page, but they weren’t going to need them as the adrenaline and bad blood was flowing warm for this district 5A-6 playoff rematch. The regular season game was narrowly won by Nolensville when both teams were undefeated at the time.
Nolensville received the ball and had a solid drive going on their first possession as they tried to establish the run in the cold but were turned away and had to punt for The Patriots. This was a huge opportunity for Page on the road to gain an early advantage. It was clear both teams had a similar strategy to establish the run game, but like the Knights first drive The Patriots were also turned away. Nolensville continued to lean on Runningback Samson Johnson who opened up the scoring in the game with a 25-yard touchdown run. With the energy so high, it felt like every momentum swing was magnified and Page needed a response. Unfortunately for The Patriots they began their next drive at their own 10 after a muffed kickoff. The Nolensville defense looked like a swarm of bats rushing to the ball in groups and suffocating the Page offense at every turn. Quarterback, Colin Hurd, threw a beautiful 35-yard ball down the sideline that was defended perfectly by Nolensville’s Derrick Burroughs and Page would have to punt. The Knights began to move the ball down the field to extend their lead, but The Page defense stepped up when it was absolutely needed and forced a fumble that they then recovered near midfield.
As the second quarter began so did the fireworks as, Page faced a critical third down that they were able to convert with a 14-yard pass. Page was on the move but faced a fourth and 5 inside the 10. They elected to kick, but no! They ran a fake field goal pass that was competed to Eric Hazzard for a tying touchdown. With 6:55 to go in the second our score in Nolensville was all tied up at 7. It took only 47 seconds for Nolensville to respond as Coby Walton hit Eric Harper on a deep slant that Harper took 82 yards for a touchdown. Page would turn around and return the kickoff to near midfield and convert two more long third downs but were turned away on the third. Page would face fourth and 19. The Nolensville defense once again stepped up and turned The Patriots away on downs. Nolensville would have to punt and leave Page with nine seconds with the ball at midfield. Page would try for the deep ball but it was intercepted by Burroughs ad the half would end with the score Nolensville 14 Page 7.
Page received the ball put of halftime and fully took advantage of the opportunity. After returning the kick back to midfield, The Patriots faced a fourth down. They were finally able to overcome the Nolensville defense that had been giving them fits all night and not only converted the fourth down attempt but scored a touchdown on a 26-yard pass from Colin Hurd to Trent Gephart. The game was now tied 14 all. If Nolensville wanted to hold serve, they were going to need points. After a long run from Samson Johnson, disaster struck for the Knights. A quick pass to an outside receiver was too high and was deemed a backwards pass. The free ball rolled on the ground and was then picked up and ran in for a Page touchdown by Brenden Anes making it 21-14 Page. Nolensville got the ball back and had to grind out a first down. Page was making them earn every yard until, on a third and long, Walton connected with Harper for a 60-yard touchdown and the second of the night for both players. We were again tied up now at 21. Page came out determined to respond and went for a deep ball of their own, but Hurd was picked off by Nico Amato. After a Nolensville Punt, Page came out and methodically worked the ball into Nolensville territory. Hurd was rocked as he let a sidearm pass go to Lisman on the sideline. Lisman then broke a tackle and outran the entire Knights defense to the endzone to make it 27-21 Patriots after the extra point was blocked. The Knights wasted no time responding and on their next drive Walton Hit Fitzgerald over the middle for a 70 yard catch and run touchdown. The extra point was good, and Nolensville had reclaimed the lead 28-27 as we entered the fourth quarter.
Page started of the fourth quarter the only way they could if they wanted keep pace. A touchdown drive with a throw from Colin Hurd capped off by a successful two point try. With 8:13 to go in the game. The Patriots took the lead. After both teams traded punts Page intercepted Nolensville as they were driving into the redzone to tie the game. You can watch that sequence below
It seemed The Knights were done until they forced a fumble. They had new life and one more shot to tie the game, but once again The Patriots defense stepped up and forced a turnover on downs. Page ran out the clock and won the game 35-28
Our MVP for the game is Page Quarterback Colin Hurd. Colin led The Page offense in their second qhalf resurgence with three touchdowns and multiple clutch tight window throws. I caught up with Colin after the game and you can hear that interview below