After a rough scrimmage against Walton, Lambert’s regular-season opener couldn't have gone much better, as the Longhorns cruised to an easy 41-14 road win over Sequoyah Friday at Skip Pope Stadium.
“You always see how good your team is if they improve between Week 1 and Week 2, and then between Week 2 and Week 3,” Marc Beach said via phone after his debut as Lambert head coach. “I thought we did really well. We made the adjustments we needed to on both sides of the ball. The staff did a great job in getting our guys believing in the system. Making the strides we did from Week 1 to Week 2 says a lot about our coaches and our players.”
The Chiefs had no answer for a physical Longhorns rushing attack that totaled 326 yards and five touchdowns, wearing down Sequoyah in the process.
After holding the Chiefs to a three-and-out on their first possession, the Longhorns took advantage of good field position. Luke Logan’s 23-yard touchdown reception from James Tyre gave Lambert an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter, capping off a seven-play, 46-yard drive.
Lambert never looked back, putting the game away with a huge second quarter.
After a long Sequoyah drive stalled at the Lambert 12-yard line, Tyre made the Chiefs pay again. This time with an 86-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Tyre rushed for 90 yards and passed for 116, to go along with his two total touchdowns.
Tommy Lafayette’s 1-yard run gave Lambert a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter, following an 8-yard punt by Sequoyah that allowed Lambert to begin the drive at the Chiefs' 12-yard line.
Late in the second quarter, Lamber punter Ryan Degyansky turned near disaster into a scoring opportunity, as the preseason all-state pick ran for 16 yards on fourth-and-12 after he bobbled the snap and saw an opening.
A 23-yard catch by Mike Giampapa led to an Ethan Terry 1-yard touchdown run on the very next play, giving the Longhorns an insurmountable 27-0 halftime lead.
“We jumped on them, and that’s kind of what we talked about,” Beach said of the fast start. “Not getting behind, protecting the football, playing sound defense and not giving up the big play. I think we did that.
“Our special teams were phenomenal, and we just made the plays we had to make on both sides.”
Early In the third quarter, the Longhorns increased their lead to 41-0, as Lafayette and Terry each scored their second touchdowns of the game from 63 and 36 yards, respectively.
Lafayette rushed for 126 of his 142 yards in the second half.
The Chiefs displayed perseverance, avoiding the shutout with two quick touchdowns in about a 90-second span. Jackson Hancock’s 80-yard touchdown catch from Jaxon Nesbitt and Bretton Darling’s 34 yard interception return for a score finally put Sequoyah on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to 41-14 almost midway through the third quarter.
Both touchdowns came with Lambert's reserves on the field.
“Overall, our defense played their tails off,” Beach said of the first unit.
Having been on the wrong side of a 36-7 defeat in their scrimmage, albeit against one of the top Class 7A teams in the state, the Longhorns made quite the statement in beating the 6A Chiefs on the road. A Lambert rushing attack that couldn't get anything going against Walton suddenly showed its potential.
That should be a scary proposition for upcoming foe Dawson County, which will represent not only Lambert's home opener but also its homecoming game.
“We needed a little bit of confidence after how we played last week,” Beach said. “I thought our kids did a great job responding to that.
“We’ve got to get ready for Dawson County. It’s homecoming this week. There’s a lot of things going on that we don’t need to focus on. We need to focus on football.”
The Marietta Daily Journal contributed to this report.