Lambert 17, West Forsyth 7
Lambert 0 0 7 10_17
West Forsyth 7 0 0 0_7
WF_Burns 10 pass from Hamilton (kick good), 8:07
L_Wright 1 run (kick good), 2:07
L_Gillis 28 pass from Kenney (kick good), 7:31
L_Christensen 42 FG, 5:04
Last year’s battle for the WolverHorn Trophy was a shootout for the ages. Friday’s iteration was quite the opposite.
Neither team gained more than 200 yards of offense—in fact, the Longhorns barely eclipsed the century mark—but Lambert put itself in the driver’s seat of Region 5-7A Friday night with a 17-7 victory over No. 8 West Forsyth on the road.
The Longhorns (5-3, 2-1) sacked West quarterback Kiernen Hamilton nine times, including three in a row on the Wolverines’ last gasp down by 10 in the waning moments, with defensive tackle Parker Reynolds leading the way with a hat trick. Mac Redmond and Dylan Shepherd got to Hamilton twice, while Gallil Guillaume and Hayden Gargosh each had one.
It was a huge turnaround for Lambert’s defense, which surrendered 40 points to North Forsyth the week before, but Friday’s domination of West (6-2, 2-1) was something head coach Louis Daniel felt coming.
“I went up to Parker [Reynolds] earlier in the week and told him he was going to have the game of his life,” Daniel said. “We’ve not been the best at getting to the quarterback at times this season, but we got all of those guys together this week and really harped on how it would be a part of our game plan, and they worked their tails off this week.”
Lambert’s defense was so dominant that it won despite the fact its offense gained just 105 yards. The winning formula was pushing West backwards, then scoring off short fields. Bryce Christensen, who punts and kicks for the Longhorns, arguably turned the game in the second half. His 41-yard punt to pin West at its own 1-yard line gave Lambert the ball off a West punt at the 30 midway through the fourth quarter. Richie Kenney connected on his longest pass of the day—a 28-yard, perfect pass in single coverage to Tyler Gillis—to give Lambert a 14-7 lead.
After Marcus Chatelain recovered a West fumble on the next possession, Christensen knocked through a 42-yard field goal that could have gone in from 60 to put the pressure on West to score quickly. That pressure led to the three game-clinching sacks from Lambert’s defense.
It looked like West would run up the score early on, striking quickly on a 10-play, 58-yard drive that ended when Hamilton hit Zach Burns for a 10-yard touchdown. But, for the second week in a row the Wolverines contrasted a fast start by hurting themselves with miscommunication and penalties—they finished with 10, including six untimely illegal procedures.
“I’m not sure what it is. I’ll have to go back and look, but our guys just have seemed to get out in front of themselves, and it ends up pushing us back,” West head coach Adam Clack said.
Lambert’s offense was in a major rut before the third quarter, when Brian Wright provided the spark with 14 second-half carries for 67 total yards and the game-tying touchdown from 1-yard out late in the third quarter. That was moments after a penalty on West turned what would have been a Lambert field goal attempt into a second chance at a third down conversion, where Kenney hit Alex Snyder for a first down pass.
West finished with 149 total yards, but negative 42 on the ground. Its leading rusher was Grant Torgerson with just 14 yards, but Torgerson showed off his caliber once again on defense with two sacks. West’s Eli Huggins and Brody Sagues also sacked Kenney.
The loss will be a tough one for West to swallow. Heading into the game the Wolverines were receiving praise from multiple state-wide polls, and their only loss was a shortened game against a defending state champion. While Friday might have marked the return back to Earth, Clack knows the team’s goals are still in front of them.
“Does this hurt our chances at winning region? You bet. But everything we set out for at the beginning of the year is still there. We’ve still got a shot at hosting a state playoff game and at getting farther than we were last season,” Clack said. “When we actually do things right in all three phases of the football game I do believe we are one of the best teams in the state. We can’t let this one game define who we are.”