During their rivalry matchup with Lanier on Friday night, Lambert’s football team went through a wide range of emotions.
It was proud of a stout defensive first half, but in the third quarter, that had all fallen apart. But even down 20, Lambert still felt hope, and soon, that deficit was just six.
That changed with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Texas A&M commit Zach Calzada with 2:19 to go. Down two scores, Lambert’s struggling offense could not come back again, as the home Longhorns fell 30-16.
“Honestly, I wasn’t mad at all,” Lambert defensive end Gallil Guillaume said. “I was happy with my team’s performance. I knew we fought hard. I knew we put it all on the field and that’s all I could ever want. We came up short, but we fought like a family. That’s all that matters.”
The beginning of Lambert’s third quarter went about as poorly as it could get. Quarterback Peyton Rich was sacked twice to set up a punt from the 1, and Lanier’s AJ Johnson punched it in two plays later for a 9-3 lead with 9:16 left in the third.
Lambert continued to have issues getting first downs throughout the third, amassing just one over that stretch. Meanwhile, Lanier continued to pile on, with two quick touchdown runs of 37 and 65 yards from Taj Burnes. What was once a defensive game was spiraling out of control for Lambert, who trailed 23-3 with 4:21 left in the third quarter.
“They ran power,” Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said. “That’s football 101. For that two or three-minute stretch, we decided that we weren’t going to play our assignments.”
Still, hope of a massive comeback was not gone, especially when the fourth quarter arrived. With 9:51 left to play, Rich fired a pass to the end zone for Patrick Deans, who dove in for Lambert’s first touchdown. Lambert’s PAT was blocked, but less than a minute later, Guillaume inched his team even closer, picking up a fumble on Lanier’s ensuing drive and running down the sideline for a score. Even after Lambert’s disastrous third quarter, it was a one-score game at 23-16.
“I am very proud of how they fight,” Daniel said. “I wish we could say that they lined up and they beat us – we just quit playing fundamental football.”
With 5:43 to play, Lambert made a huge stop to get the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but an interception on a tipped ball ended that chance. Lanier followed that with the touchdown pass that ended up being the dagger.
“Anything can happen,” Guillaume said. “You just have to play hard through the end of the game.”
What became a scoring fest didn’t start out that way. Drew Dockter scored Lambert’s only points of the first half with a 44-yard field goal with 6:59 left in the first.
The rest of the first half was a defensive struggle on both sides, with plenty of missed opportunities to go around, but Lanier received its first big break with eight minutes left in the second quarter, with receiver Cole Thornton hauling in a pass from Calzada and running all the way to Lambert’s 13. Lambert’s defense stood tall, forcing Lanier to tie the game with a field goal of its own, a 23-yard chip shot shortly before halftime.
“We have to get better,” Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said. “There were moments tonight where we didn’t capitalize on opportunities. We’ve got to play assignment football … A good team like Lanier is going to make you pay for not doing that.”