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Football: Denmark offense explodes in 52-14 win at Lambert
Trey Patterson
Trey Patterson, right, and Jake Swart, left, bring down Lambert running back Aidan Smith during Denmark's 52-14 win against the Longhorns. - photo by David Roberts

The first one went to Azari Brown. 

Aaron McLaughlin's second touchdown pass went to Teddy Davenport, then back to Brown and one more to Casey Gunn. 

By the end of the night, Denmark's senior quarterback had four passing touchdowns and had racked up 249 yards on just nine completions. 

McLaughlin also scored on a 75-yard TD run on the second play of the third quarter, plus a 15-yard score on a QB draw, accounting for six scores and nearly 400 yards of total offense as Denmark pounded Lambert 52-14.

"We're getting healthy. We had a number of key players out for a long time, but we're finally getting healthy," Denmark head coach Mike Palmieri. "They're playing together as a team. They work hard, man. They lift weights, we work the hell out of them and they're responding."

Denmark running back Brandon Roel scored the Danes' other touchdown, a 3-yard score to cap a two-play, 12-yard drive that began after Harrison Halder blocked a Lambert punt.

Roel's run came in the middle of an 11-play sequence that saw Denmark score four touchdowns. 

Trey Glymph's 35-yard field goal accounted for the first quarter's only points, but Brown had an athletic catch on a 34-yard touchdown reception to put Denmark up 10-0 four minutes into the second quarter. 

Lambert answered when QB James Tyre hit Kojo Antwi in the middle of the field for a 32-yard catch-and-run.

Denmark needed only six plays to answer, as an 80-yard drive ended with McLaughlin barreling into the end zone at the end of a 15-yard run.

Roel scored following the blocked punt, then McLaughlin called his own number on a 75-yard option run just after halftime to put the Danes up 31-7.

Aaron McLaughlin
Denmark quarterback Aaron McLaughlin scrambles out of the pocket Friday during the Danes' 52-14 win against Lambert. - photo by David Roberts
"We're not trying to do that now. Aaron just sometimes is Aaron," Palmieri said. "He's such a good player. If he sees something, we don't want to hold him back, but we're trying not to run him as much. We're hopefully going to need him later on in the year."

A couple of long touchdown passes — one to Davenport from 43 yards and another from 30 yards to Gunn — plus a 66-yard bomb to Brown punctuated Denmark's incredible offensive display put the game out of reach, 52-14.

"That wasn't the best we had to offer right there," Lambert head coach Tommy Watson said. "They whooped our butt — make no mistake about it. Again, not making excuses, but when you play without eight starters, it's hard."

Watson said the Longhorns had eight starters — including seven defensive starters — in quarantine because of the coronavirus. The Longhorns were also without running back Harrison Peyton, who Watson said suffered an injury last week against Gainesville.

Still, Lambert kept it a one-possession game for much of the first half until the Danes began to pull away. 

QB Ashton Smith found James Tyre — who also took snaps at QB — on a 79-yard TD pass after McLaughlin's third-quarter touchdown run, but Denmark kept Lambert off the board from there.

"Defense played good," Palmieri said. "I thought we blew a coverage. They tricked our kids' eyes with a fake screen that they threw by them, but besides that I thought we played pretty good."

Tyre started the game and also took snaps in the fourth quarter, finishing 12-for-16 passing for 151 yards and the score.

Smith spelled Tyre near the end of the first half and completed 4 of 8 passes for 122 yards. Tyre was Smith's favorite receiver, catching three passes for 106 yards and the score.

James Tyre
Lambert quarterback James Tyre attempts a pass Friday during the Longhorns' 52-14 loss to Denmark. - photo by David Roberts
"James is a good quarterback," Watson said. "We've got two good quarterbacks — James and Ashton. We struggle at times to protect them, but that's part of building a program and part of changing a culture. We'll keep working, keep plugging."

Smith threw an interception in the fourth quarter to Denmark linebacker Trey Patterson, who also dropped Tyre on a sack the following series to turn second-and-7 into third-and-18.

Denmark's offensive line appears to be nearing full strength, with seniors William Purdy and Aidan Whillock providing McLaughlin with the protection needed to complete long passes.

The Danes took a hit in the first game of the season when Furman commit Devin duCille suffered a knee injury, but Roel and sophomore Amon Williams were effective against Lambert. The duo combined to rush for more than 100 yards, with Roel tallying 59 yards on nine carries and Williams rushing 13 times for 45 yards.

In all, Denmark accounted for 486 total yards in the Danes' highest-scoring game since last year's 58-0 shutout against Chestatee.

Denmark (3-3, 3-0 Region 6-7A) will host South Forsyth at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30, while Lambert (4-3, 0-3 Region 6-7A) will travel to North Forsyth at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30.