In a week that has seen curses break, the Lambert Longhorns broke their own, capturing their elusive Region 5-7A championship with a 59-0 victory over Forsyth Central on Friday night at The Horn.
Coming into the regular season finale, the stakes were high for both teams as the Longhorns (6-4, 4-1) looked to clinch the number one seed in the region for the first time in school history after falling in a heartbreaker to Milton last Friday.
“We’ve been so close,” said Lambert head coach Louis Daniel. “We have finished runner up four times going back to 2009, and two years ago when I took over it was a goal, and this season the guys were able to finish it out.”
Lambert found success in its passing game as quarterback Richie Kenney drove the ball into the Central red zone, but a near interception by the Bulldogs in the end zone almost swung the momentum as the Longhorns were forced to kick a field goal, which sailed wide left to give the Bulldogs good field position.
Following the missed field goal, the Bulldogs were in search of keeping the momentum, but crucial penalties killed the drive as they were forced to punt.
Kenney and the passing game quickly moved the ball inside the Bulldogs’ 30, which set up a Brian Wright 27 yard touchdown run to give the Longhorns a 6-0 lead.
With the ball at their own 23 the Longhorns went to work as the offense smoothly drove the ball down the field behind an established running game, and timely passes from Kenney, which resulted in a 21 yard touchdown pass to Bobby Gabriel as the Horns took a 13-0 lead.
Kenney finished the night throwing 17 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was pleased with how our guys fought week in and week out,” said Central head coach Frank Hepler. “Scores don’t indicate how we played, and if I’m a parent out there I’m going to send my kid to Central, because we have nowhere to go but up. The sky’s the limit.”
The game quickly escalated on the next Central drive as Brad Thiltgen threw an interception right to a Lambert defender to give the Longhorn 1st and goal from the 10 yard line. Brian Wright would punch in his second touchdown of the night from one yard out to give the Longhorns a commanding 19-0 lead with 9:19 left in the second quarter.
Following an epic collapse from Bulldogs, which saw Central give up a fumble in the end zone and defensive mistakes, Lambert scored 27 points in the last 7:20 of the first half to pull away taking a commanding 46-0 lead into halftime.
With the victory the Longhorns will host Central Gwinnett next Friday in the first round of the state playoffs.
“We knew we had the potential to be region champs,” said Richie Kenney. “It’s so good to finally get it done. It was one of our many goals this season. We’re looking forward to getting a playoff win, and seeing how far we can go.”