Lambert finally found a way to close, holding off a furious late fourth-quarter comeback by Wheeler Friday night for a 38-35 non-region victory to end a two game losing streak.
Both teams entered Friday reeling from losses. The Longhorns (2-3) found themselves blowing a fourth quarter lead for the second time this season, to Lanier, and Wheeler (2-3) had been blown out by powerhouse Walton at home, 35-14.
The fourth quarter has proved to be Lambert’s biggest opponent this season, as Wheeler mounted a comeback for the ages after Justin Bruno was knocked out of the game on a ferocious hit. Bruno finished the night with 21 carries for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Nursing a 31-28 lead late in the fourth quarter, Lambert head coach Louis Daniel tasked quarterback Richie Kenney with leading the Longhorns to a victory, and he did just that, throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Alex Snyder in the back of the end zone to put the Horns on top 38-28 with 2:35 remaining. Kenney finished 13-for-22 passing for 219 yards and two touchdowns
“The offensive line stepped up tonight,” Kenney said. “The receivers had a great night, and Snyder’s catch in the back of the end zone made my job easy tonight.”
Down 38-28, Wheeler still found life offensively through wide receiver TJ Smith, who finished the night with 7 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter when Smith made the biggest play of the game behind a beautiful hook and ladder trick play that saw the Wildcats take it 78 yards down to the Longhorns 1-yard line with 1:41 to play in the game.
Wildcats quarterback Gene Magerwurth punched it in from 1 yard out, and just like that Wheeler had cut the Longhorns lead to 38-35.
“We play 70 plays tonight, and we play great on 64 of them,” Daniel said. “We keep fighting. The other three games we lost in a similar situation where we just couldn’t close.”
Even though Lambert recovered Wheeler’s ensuing onside kick, the Wildcats sacked Kenney on third-and-three to take over with 37 seconds left.
The Wildcats had one last chance to stun the Longhorns, but Lambert tackled a Wheeler receiver inbounds as the clock ran out.
“The good news is the breakdowns aren’t things that can’t be corrected,” Daniel said. “We’re not quite following through on our techniques. Once we figure that out, the sky’s the limit.”
With the win Lambert takes two weeks off to prepare for region and county rival South Forsyth. The Longhorn’s will look for revenge after falling in the region championship last year, 31-6.
“We’re 2-3 and easily could’ve been 5-0,” said Kenney. “We’re going to get after practice Monday and get revenge on South.”
Lambert 38, Wheeler 35
Wheeler 7 7 7 14_35
Lambert 21 3 7 7_38
L_Bruno 63 yard run (kick good), 10:14
L_Bruno 12 yard run (kick good), 8:46
W_Magerkurth 1 yard run (kick good), 1:08
L_Bruno 66 yard run (kick good), :46
W_Smith 51 pass from Magerkurth (kick good), 8:42
L_Christensen 27 yard FG (kick good), 3:08
W_Smith 39 yard pass from Magerwurth (kick good), 10:04
L_Gillis 15 yard pass from Kenney (kick good), 2:25
W_Smith 20 yard pass from Magerwurth (kick good), 7:56
L_Snyder 9 yard pass from Kenney (kick good), 2:30
W_Magerwurth 1 yard run (kick good), 1:39