The hardest part for Tommy Lafayette was getting back on the field.
Finding the end zone three times while accounting for nearly 300 total yards Friday during Lambert’s 27-13 home win against Mountain View? That was the easy part.
At least that’s how the Longhorns sophomore tailback made it look, scoring once on the ground, again through the air, and taking a kickoff 99 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
“One thing about him, he goes 1,000 miles per hour. He doesn’t know how to go up the stairs without going full speed,” Lambert coach Marc Beach said. “Everything he does is full speed. He just works so hard and wants to be so successful. It’s something about him, and our kids see him in practice. How he practices is exactly how he plays.”
Lafayette’s first score came moments after Mountain View took a brief 6-0 lead — the Bears’ only lead of the game.
Kicker Jackson Smith drilled the ensuing kickoff down to Lambert’s 1-yard line, but Lafayette fielded it, drifted to the right and followed his blockers all the way to the end zone to tie the game.
“You could have driven a semi-truck through that thing. It was amazing,” Lafayette said of the hole his blockers created. “We’ve got three back there that are amazing — Cam Bland, Christian Smith, Harrison Richards. Everyone can do that. It’s all about the blockers in the front. They’re amazing.”
Lafayette also scored one a 1-yard TD plunge out of the wild horn — Lambert’s version of the wildcat formation — and caught a 39-yard TD pass from quarterback James Tyre on a wheel route.
This time last year, Lafayette was on the mend after a season-ending injury cut short his freshman year.
Through three games this season, Lambert’s dynamic tailback is leading the Longhorns in rushing with 303 yards, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.
“You’ve got to support the team,” Lafayette said. "As hard as it is, you’ve just got to get through it. Ten months of rehab and I’m back better than ever."
Lambert (3-0) grabbed the lead on its next offensive series, assembling a methodical 11-play, 96-yard drive that ended with Tyre finding tight end Luke Logan on a 27-yard touchdown pass.
Tyre took the snap and rolled to his left, reversed back and uncorked a jump ball for Logan. The Air Force commit made the midair adjustment to snag the pass, then fell into the end zone.
Lafayette’s rushing score gave Lambert a 20-6 lead right before halftime.
Mountain View’s first-half score came after a fumble gave the Bears possession on the Longhorns’ 25-yard line.
A pass breakup by Bland and a modest gain on second down made it third-and-8, but Mountain View quarterback Mason Kidd slipped out of a pair of tackles to give the Bears a first down, then found Zyon Davis on a 6-yard TD for the game’s first points.
Davis was Kidd’s favorite target, catching 10 passes for 122 yards and the score. Kidd finished 16-for-33 passing for 208 yards and two touchdowns.
Kidd’s second passing score capped an incredibly efficient drive by the Bears, one that ended with a 38-yard TD strike to Eric Hart. Kidd also found Hart on a 27-yard play and hooked up with Davis on a 17-yard catch-and-run. It equaled a three-play, 82-yard drive that cut Lambert’s lead to 20-13 with 8:36 to play in the third quarter.
But Lambert didn’t take long to answer.
Lafayette accounted for his third score of the game after weaving through the Mountain View defense on a wheel route, sneaking past the secondary and hauling in the touchdown pass.
“Coach told me I really had to sell that bubble screen so they really bite down,” Lafayette said. “So, right when I take off on that wheel, no one will be there. He was right — two times in a row, actually.”
Tyre finished 13-for-23 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Lafayette led the Longhorns with 105 yards on four receptions, while Logan added 48 yards and a score on five catches.
Lambert totaled 118 rushing yards, with Lafayette running for 76 yards on 14 carries.
“Our O-line did a great job tonight,” Beach said. “It was a challenge for them. We knew going in that they were pretty good up front and really good in the back end, in the secondary. But I thought we managed the ball. We had one turnover; James put the ball on the ground once. Our kids are playing hard. I ask them to play hard, play with class and expect to win.”
Lambert’s defense held the Bears to just 73 rushing yards on 21 carries, controlling the line of scrimmage against a much larger Mountain View offensive line.
Linebackers Carson Knowles and Joseph Tripp helped set the tone early, stuffing Mountain View running back Raphael Nelson at the line on the Bears’ first play of the game. Kidd ran for zero yards on second down, then threw an incomplete pass to give the Bears a three-and-out on their first possession.
Knowles also had a sack in the fourth quarter and added a touchdown-saving tackle on a 42-yard shovel pass from Kidd to Davis, while Noah Dobbs recovered a fumble in the second quarter.
Tommy Morris delivered a big hit on Kidd on a key third-down play early in the fourth quarter, limiting Mountain View’s QB to a 6-yard gain when he needed 10 to keep the drive alive.
Morris ended Mountain View’s next offensive drive with a pass breakup on fourth down, and when the Bears finally regained possession, they trailed by two possessions with just 1:16 remaining.
“Now, it’s just going to keep getting harder,” Beach said. “We’ve got Flowery Branch in two weeks, then East Coweta in three. We’ll get some guys healthy, and it’s a bye week next week. We’ll try to keep in rolling.”