By McClain Baxley
For the Forsyth County News
Down by four points with two minutes left, junior quarterback Ashton Smith flipped a switch and was commanding the Lambert football team like he’d been doing it for years. With the help of two spectacular throws caught by Aidan Smith, the Longhorns were facing a third-and-three from Etowah’s 14 yard line with seven seconds left.
Smith rolled to his right and saw nothing. He turned back to his left and found a wide-open Aidan Smith, who reeled it in and pushed his way through the Eagles defense down to the 2 yard-line.
The crowd went crazy and both teams celebrated as if it were November in the GHSA playoffs.
“It felt like playoffs. The fans were crazy,” Ashton said. “It was awesome. It was a blast.”
While it was only a scrimmage Friday, that Etowah ended up winning 21-17, Lambert and head coach Louis Daniel were still pleased with the results across the board.
“Scrimmages are hard. The first games are hard because you don't know what you’re getting into,” he said. “You want to go out and teach your guys. You’re trying to teach your games, your way and get everything installed.”
In the first half, both teams’ defenses were locked in.
Seniors Camden Sagues and Anthony Newton forced a sack and a fumble for Lambert. On the other side, Etowah forced Lambert into two three-and-outs and a field goal.
The first touchdown for the Longhorns capped a drive where senior Peyton Rich was locked in. Rich found junior Jack Stewart for a 48-yard pass to break into the Eagles’ red zone. Three plays later, Rich hit junior Braden Bamburowski for a 13-yard touchdown.
Heading into the scrimmage, figuring out the defense was something Rich was hoping to work on.
“Tonight, I improved on reading coverage,” he said. “Like when should I pull it, when should I throw it. The line was a big part in that.”
Lambert’s offensive line only allowed one sack on the first team. The secondary for the Longhorns was a group that couldn’t catch their breath all night.
Etowah’s Remington Adams had his way for more than 50 yards and a touchdown, slicing his way through the Lambert secondary.
The Eagles looked to extend their lead to double digits before halftime and Adams was getting them in the range.
On a fade route, Newton won a battle with Etowah’s Blake Bohannon to preserve the four-point difference.
“We did not execute in the first half on every play,” Daniel said. “There were a few break downs here and there that cost us an opportunity to score some points, but we competed.”
Each team gave their starters two more series before putting the backups in. Rich made the most of his opportunity and Daniel noticed.
“Peyton played well,” he said. “He threw a couple nice balls and competed. Just like everyone else, he's going to get better.”
Now with two weeks before the Longhorns travel to face Wheeler in the season opener, they’ll be continuing to work on physicality and confidence.
“Ashton Smith is a good quarterback,” he said. “Aiden Smith is a real good player and those kids are young. We have to build some confidence and let them know that they can. I know they can, they have to believe they can.”