Helicopter grounds crewRyan Weingart For the Forsyth County News
ALPHARETTA – Lambert’s defense lead the way in a gritty 17-14 victory on the road over Alpharetta on Friday night.
"It's always been a goal of ours to win a region championship,” Lambert’s Tanner Hall said. “And this is one of the big steps that's always been lacking in past years. It was just a big win. We all really just wanted it. It's just effort.”
The play of the night came on a 4th-and-1 from the Raiders’ 43-yard line with just over three minutes remaining in the game. On a drive that started with 6:36 on the clock, Lambert’s Bobby Gabriel ran it right up the middle for a 3-yard gain and the Longhorns were able to run out the clock and seal the victory.
"We showed some guts,” Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said. “The defense played well. Last week's performance, that's not what we normally do, I didn’t feel real good about that. But we came back to work and had the kids refocused. Coach Woodall and Coach Pritchett, those guys did a great job. They came out with a good plan and we executed it.”
Last week’s game saw two teams combine for 81 points in a 45-36 Longhorns win over Centennial.
This week, not so much.
Lambert (3-1, 3-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) struggled to get much going in the first half. Their two-quarterback system with Richie Kenney and Bobby Gabriel managed just 72 yards passing, while the running game was virtually non-existent.
“They're good up front, their d-line's good,” Daniel said. “This is the fourth time we've played them and every year they give us some problems. We'll get back in the film room, take a look at it, and figure out everything we gotta do."
The Longhorns’ defense shut down Alpharetta (2-2, 1-2) in the first half, holding them to 30 yards passing and just 7 yards rushing. They also held the Raiders to 0-for-6 on third downs.
“The defense won tonight, the offense won last week,” Daniel said. “So hopefully we can put it together at some point and become more consistent down the stretch.”
Nine of the 10 first half drives ended in punts.
Bryce Christensen’s 28-yard field goal with a minute left in the second quarter put the Longhorns up 3-0 at the half.
The second half brought a little more action.
Alpharetta put together two effective six-play scoring drives of 75 and 80 yards, respectively, both ending in Nolan Edmonds touchdown runs. The latter put the Raiders up 14-6 late in the third. Edmonds finished the game 104 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns.
But Lambert responded quickly. On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, after bobbling the snap, Gabriel was able to find Hall for a touchdown, to bring the Longhorns within a 2-point conversion of tying the game.
On the next play, Kenney rolled to his right and found Tyler Gillis in the front corner of the end zone to tie the game at 14-14.
Hall finished with six receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown. Gabriel went 2-for-4 for 19 yards and a touchdown, while Kenney finished 13-for-19 for 222 yards.
“Gabriel, Richie Kenney, and Tanner, those kids made some clutch plays,” Daniel said “It was a big win for us.”
With just under nine minutes to play, Christensen hit his third field goal of the game to put the Longhorns up 17-14. Christensen was 3-for-3 on the night with field goals of 28, 23, and 25 yards.
Lambert outgained Alpharetta 273-207 in total offense. The defense held the Raiders to 2-for-10 on third downs, while also picking up two sacks.
“I think it was just the halftime motivation,” Hall said. “This is the last time I'm ever gonna play on this field. It’s the last time these seniors are gonna play Alpharetta. We just kinda realized that and the whole team stepped up.”
"The defense played great in the first half, the offense had to step it up,” Kenney said. “We came out, receivers made some great catches. It was a great team win."
Lambert 17, Alpharetta 14
Lambert 0 3 3 11_17
Alpharetta 0 0 14 0_14
L_ Christensen 28 FG, 1:00
A_ Edmonds 5 run (kick good), 8:26
L_ Christensen 23 FG, 6:05
A_ Edmonds 14 run (kick good), 4:24
L_ Hall 4 pass from Gabriel (pass good), 11:53
L_ Christensen 25 FG, 8:58