Down 18 points in the first half on homecoming is far from an enviable position, but Lambert did not panic when faced with that scenario Friday night.
Instead, the Longhorns collected themselves and forged an impressive second half to rally past Centennial 24-23 at The Horn in a Region 6-AAAAAA game.
"We made a few adjustments, hung in there and got a win in a tough ballgame," Lambert head coach Sid Maxwell said calmly, displaying the peace his players portrayed despite trailing 21-3 with four minutes left in the first half.
The Longhorns (3-3, 2-1) locked down Centennial’s running game, holding the Knights (1-5, 1-2) to 22 yards rushing after halftime after surrendering 146 in the first half. The Knights still had a chance to win on their final possession, but Devin O’Neill’s 39-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left with 11 seconds remaining.
Lambert trailed 21-10 at halftime but needed just a little more than seven minutes to capture the lead. Patrick Noble recovered a fumble at the Centennial 21 four minutes into the third quarter, and quarterback Tucker Maxwell scored from 3 yards out with 7:23 left in the quarter to draw the Longhorns within 21-16.
Lambert held Centennial on the next possession, and Maxwell found Tanner Hall down the right sideline three plays later for a 62-yard touchdown with 4:59 remaining in the third. Jake Stanford scored on the two-point conversion to make it 24-21 Longhorns.
Maxwell finished 4-for-11 passing for 65 yards and added 55 yards rushing, but was injured on a roughing the passer penalty with 1:09 left in the first half.
Backup quarterback Hayden McLeod entered the game and found Hall along the left sideline for 13 yards and a first down on his first play. McLeod scored from 1 yard out on the next play, and Hall’s extra point brought Lambert within 21-10 with 52.6 seconds left in the half.
"He did a great job," Sid Maxwell said of McLeod, who took the majority of snaps in the fourth quarter and finished 3-for-6 passing for 33 yards. "It takes everybody to be successful."
Hall’s 36-yard field goal with 9:05 left in the first quarter put Lambert ahead 3-0, but the Knights scored on three consecutive possessions to build their big advantage. Tee Holland’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Caden Herring with 2:11 remaining in the quarter, Marvin Taylor’s 1-yard plunge with 9:12 left in the first half and Patrick Inwood’s 18-yard run five minutes later made it 21-3.
But Centennial’s only second-half points came when Tucker Maxwell ran out of the end zone for a safety with 1:18 remaining. The Knights returned the ensuing free kick to midfield, but Lambert’s defense held at its 22, and O’Neill’s potential game-winner skirted outside the left upright.