Early in the second quarter, Lambert held a 28-0 lead Friday at Flowery Branch. Even still, the Longhorns needed to sweat out a late onside kick before closing out a 43-20 win.
The victory kept Lambert unbeaten at 4-0 on the year, but it wasn't as clean of a performance as first-year head coach Marc Beach wanted from his team.
“We came out and did some good things early,” Beach said. “… I was disappointed in how we didn’t finish offensively, and then we gave up some big plays defensively, which we haven’t done. We have to get those corrected.”
Coming off a bye week, things couldn't have started much better for the visitors.
Having beaten Sequoyah, Dawson County and Mountain View by a combined margin of 117-33, Lambert looked set to continue that trend with a fast start against Flowery Branch.
Less than three minutes into the game, Longhorns quarterback James Tyre connected with Brandon Jones for a 7-0 edge. Ethan Terry followed with a rushing touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
Lambert led 21-0 by the end of the first quarter and quickly added to that advantage early in the second, when Tyre and Jones hooked up again.
“I was a little nervous, but I thought we came out and executed early,” Beach said of his worry about coming off the open date. “We did some good things, but I think we got complacent. That’s my fault as a coach, and that’s my job to get that corrected.
“We were up 28-0 and had a chance to put them away. We didn’t. Those things have to get corrected.”
While the offense only found the end zone once more — on a fourth-quarter pass from Tyre to Tommy Lafayette — a safety and two Ryan Degyansky field goals kept the Falcons at bay.
Flowery Branch trailed 33-8 at halftime but got back to within 36-20 in the fourth quarter, when a failed onside kick helped turn the tide in Lambert's favor one last time.
“Their team didn’t quit,” Beach said. “I felt like if we had been able to punch in a couple more there, we would have been able to get them, but we didn’t finish some drives. That hurt us.”
Next up for the Longhorns will be another road trip, albeit a much further one, to East Coweta.
Lambert will be seeking to match its best-ever start to a season, achieved previously in 2011 and 2012. But Beach admitted that a repeat of Friday's performance won't be good enough to get that accomplished.
“Traveling there is a little bit different than traveling to Flowery Branch or Sequoyah,” Beach said of the trip to Sharpsburg. “We’re going to leave in the middle of the day, eat down there and walk through. It will be different for our kids and will be interesting to see how we respond.”