Robert Billings had two chances at an interception in the fourth quarter of Friday’s Region 6-7A championship game
The first went through his hands and into Christian Smith’s arms for a 48-yard touchdown, allowing Lambert to cut Milton’s lead to three points with 4:11 left in the game
His second opportunity came minutes later on a desperation heave from Lambert quarterback James Tyre. Billings, a Clemson commit, tracked the pass like a center fielder, settled under it and held tightly to secure a 31-21 Milton victory and hand Lambert its first loss of the season.
Milton never trailed during the game, but the host Longhorns tied it up twice and made it 24-21 with plenty of time to play after Smith’s miraculous catch.
“These guys will run through a wall for us, and they didn’t quit,” Lambert head coach Marc Beach said. “They played hard all the way until the final whistle and we gave ourselves a chance. I probably put us in a bad situation when we went punt block and let them fake it on us. That’s my fault. There’s some things that we could have done differently — that I could have done differently.”
Milton pulled off the fake punt early in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-8 from Lambert’s 38-yard line. The Eagles snapped the ball directly to Scott Moskowitz, who rumbled ahead for 25 yards. Four plays later, Milton kicked a 21-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game.
The play shifted momentum considerably. Cam Bland had ripped off a 50-yard TD run at the beginning of the second half, only to have Milton respond on the following drive with a 23-yard TD pass from Luke Nickel to Debron Gatling.
Lambert’s ensuing drive fizzled after a pair of sacks by Will Parton and Owen Phillips, but the Longhorns defense matched the Eagles’ stand, delivering a stop of their o
Lambert appeared set to regain possession, but Moskowitz caught the Longhorns by surprise, drawing the snap and carrying the ball up the home sideline for a first down.
Moskowitz carried the ball 19 times for 162 yards. He was at his best when Milton needed him most, carrying the ball five times for 80 yards and a touchdown on the drive following Smith’s touchdown catch.
Moskowitz capped the scoring drive with a 64-yard sprint up the middle and through Lambert’s defense.
It marked the longest play of the game for either team, surpassing Nickel’s 62-yard TD pass to Marc Essley on the Eagles’ second play from scrimmage.
“We gave up a couple of big plays, but other than that, our defense played hard,” Beach said. “They played in the state championship game last year, so we have nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve got football ahead of us, so we’re going to move forward and get ready to go.”
Milton’s first play from scrimmage was picked off by Bland.
The Longhorns failed to capitalize, however, and their typically high-octane offense was shut out until Tyre’s 8-yard TD run evened the score with 3:16 until halftime.
Tyre had a 21-yard run on third-and-9 to prolong the drive and finished 15 of 28 for 219 yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing).
But Tyre was also sacked six times, and Milton’s defense managed to neutralize some of Lambert’s most dangerous pass-catchers. Brandon Jones caught three passes for 39 yards, and Air Force commit Luke Logan’s first reception came with 5:38 left in the game.
“They manned us up some and played some different coverages,” Beach said. “We felt like we ran the football OK at times. I thought what they did was do a good job containing James and not letting him get out of the pocket. They’ve got some athletic kids over there.”
Lambert ran for 144 yards and racked up 363 total yards. Bland led the Longhorns with nine carries for 73 yards, while Tommy Lafayette added 48 yards on nine carries of his own.
The Longhorns (9-1, 4-1) finish as the No. 2 team in Region 6-7A and will host Wheeler, the third-place team from Region 5-7A, Nov. 12 at The Horn.
“We’re going to bounce back and we’re going to practice, because our season is not over. It’s just getting started,” Beach said. “There are a lot of schools right now that are checking in their equipment, and we’re not going to.”