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Coulter’s five touchdowns pace Irish rout of Heritage

MARYVILLE — Knoxville Catholic High School has had a tough year. After a strong 2-0 start, the Irish had not won a game.

That all changed Friday night, Oct. 21, at Heritage’s Jack Renfro Stadium when KCHS jumped on the back of its outstanding junior running back Nolan Coulter.

The Catholic workhorse rushed for 298 yards, added 53 receiving yards and scored five touchdowns, helping the Irish snap its losing skid with a 56-34 District 4-AAA win over the Mountaineers.

Slow starts and early deficits have plagued the Irish (3-6, 1-5) during the slide, but not at HHS.

The first Irish possession featured 12 runs covering 80 yards, culminating with Coulter’s first touchdown, an 8-yard sprint.

“He just keeps on keeping on,” Irish head coach Scott Meadows said. “He runs it hard and does a lot of great things. What you see on game day is what you see in practice, he works tremendously hard. I am glad he is on our team.”

Catholic scored on its next two possessions with a pair of touchdown passes from senior quarterback Matt Armstrong. The first coming when Armstrong threw back across the field to a wide open Hayden Varner. The second came on a one-play drive after Cole Lombardo set the Irish up with 61-yard kickoff return.

Armstrong connected with Clayton Valentine for the 29-yard score. “All I had to do was put some air under it and he [Valentine] went and got it,” Armstrong said. “After the big play [Lombardo’s return] we decided to take a shot at the end zone and it worked.”

With 1:16 remaining in the half the Irish gave the ball to Coulter five straight times. All the junior did was rush for 68 yards in just over a minute. His 6-yard touchdown run put the Irish up 28-14 with 19 seconds on the clock.

After a Heritage fumble at the KCHS 47, Catholic had time for one play — and took advantage. Coulter took a screen pass from Armstrong for a 53 yard TD.

“He made it easy for me ... he makes us all look good.” said Armstrong, who ended the night 7-of-9 passing for 100 yards and three touchdowns.

Coulter added touchdown runs of 61 yards and 15 yards in the second half. He not only had the best night of his life in a Catholic uniform, but eclipsed 2,000 rushing yards for his KCHS career.

“Our line was phenomenal,” Coulter said. “They picked up blitzes, guys were diving in and they picked up everything. I have been playing with them forever, I love those guys.”

Stuart Smith added a KCHS touchdown run late in the game.


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