JOHNS CREEK—Two tight ends. Tanner Hall lined up by himself out wide. Runs behind the right guard.
That was essentially Lambert’s gameplan against Chattahoochee Friday night, as head coach Louis Daniel and co-offensive coordinator Justin Cox hoped to exploit a defense that was allowing 42 points per game.
The gameplan worked, and sophomore running back Will Kohlins complemented his powerful offensive line with powerful finishes, as well as a 60-yard touchdown, to finish with 298 of Lambert’s 366 total yards in a 41-26 win at The Arena.
With South Forsyth (8-1, 7-1 in Region 6-AAAAAA) taking care of business against Johns Creek, Lambert will face off with the War Eagles in what is, for all intents and purposes, a Region 6 championship game next Friday at South.
“I’m excited. It’s good for Forsyth County football for both of us to be in this situation,” Daniel, a head coach for just the second season (7-4 in 2014), said. “I’ve got a great staff. I just have to walk around and yell at officials and say hello to parents and stuff, but so many people have put in the effort and work to get us here.”
Forty-nine of Lambert’s 54 plays went on the ground, with 35 carries going to Kohlins. It was by far a career high, and the most rushing yards in a game by a Longhorn running back all season. Lambert (8-1, 8-0) had starter Brian Wright healthy, but elected to keep him out of the game, while Ken Dicks has been sidelined with a broken hand.
“We thought we had a mismatch. The plan was to line up and run the football,” Daniel said. “We threw, what, five times? That’s archaic.”
“The line really led me tonight and I credit a lot to them,” Kohlins said. “But, tonight was one of the best games I’ve had and the most rushing yards I’ve ever had.”
Dylan Shepherd carried 10 times for 56 yards and two scores of his own, and backup quarterback Bobby Gabriel entered on the last two drives, adding 31 yards on just three carries—including a 1-yard touchdown.
“(Shepherd) and (Kohlins) looked like twins out there. They’re both quality. They both play fullback and tailback, but they just plug in and get the job done,” Daniel said.
Daniel knew that Chattahoochee (0-9, 0-8) would put up a fight. After last week’s big win against West Forsyth he was quick to mention the scoring ability of the winless Cougars. Chattahoochee had a chance to pull within seven points just before the first half ended, but, despite Jorge Herrera already making a 36-yard field goal earlier in the game, the Cougars went to the air on fourth down from 23 yards out and failed to capitalize.
Trailing 21-18 in the third quarter, the Cougars had the ball in Lambert territory twice, but a fake punt and an interception by Justyn Jean-Felix prevented Chattahoochee from taking the field. After Jean-Felix’s pick, Kohlins managed to burst through a linebacker and run free for the 60-yard score.
Kohlins’ 4-yard score with 1:38 left in the game capped a nine-play drive, all runs, after an impressive 40-yard scoot and score from Chattahoochee’s Alexion Thompson and a two-point conversion brought the Cougars within eight points, 34-26.
Thompson also caught a 25-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter when he snuck up the seam on fourth-and-10 and hauled in the pass over a Lambert defender. Chattahoochee quarterback Chase Owens completed 14 of 28 passes for 257 yards and two scores, while rushing for 71 yards on 11 attempts. Meanwhile, his receivers—Isaac Kinsey, Thompson, Joseph Daniels, Blake Hundley and Andrew Thomas—combined for five pass plays of over 20 yards.
“(Owens) is a ball player,” Daniel said. “He keeps plays alive. When we played our base defense we were good, but we also got a little frustrated and impatient and quit trusting the scheme and if you do that against a guy like Owens he makes you pay for it.”
Daniels made the score 14-11 in the second quarter when he scored on the first play after an onside kick was recovered by the Cougars, scampering 40 yards to the endzone. The Cougars scored 11 points in just nine total seconds after falling behind 14-0 after one quarter.
David Plante, a senior defensive lineman, had four sacks of Owens on the night for the Longhorns.