LAWRENCEVILLE – Lambert fell just short in the game’s final minutes as Mountain View held on to a 28-24 victory in Lawrenceville on Friday night.
“It was a tough loss, but we competed till the very end,” Lambert quarterback Richie Kenney said.
Despite a 14-play drive that ate up over seven minutes of the fourth quarter, the Longhorns stalled in the red zone and were unable to covert on fourth and long with just over a minute remaining.
“When we had the ball down there near the goal line I thought the game was over,” Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said. “I thought we were gonna punch it in, but we have another mental mistake, something silly, and we can’t afford to do that.”
Lambert (0-1) did get off to a nice start in this game. After forcing a three-and-out on Mountain View’s opening possession, the Longhorns put together a quick, four-play, 81-yard drive for a touchdown. Kenney connected with Tyler Gillis on two huge pass plays of 48 and 32 yards, before Will Kohlins punched it in from a yard out, to give them a quick 7-0 lead.
Gillis finished the game with five receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown, all of which came in the first half.
After a Bryce Christensen field goal in the first quarter, the Longhorns’ defense made some plays to preserve the 10-0 lead. Late in the first, junior defensive back Ken Dicks intercepted a deflected pass near the goal line to keep Mountain View out of the end zone. Then senior Jaryd Jean-Felix blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt early in the second.
But the Longhorns made the game’s first big mistake when they were punting from their own end zone. A botched snap on the punt allowed the Bears (2-0) to take over at the Longhorns’ 7-yardline.
Then the lightning came.
The game was delayed for an hour and fifteen minutes with just under five minutes remaining in the first half, but if anything, the delay seemed to get these two teams going.
Mountain View scored on the first play back from the delay when Jasen Johnson took a sweep to the outside and into the end zone, cutting the Lambert lead to 10-7. Johnson found pay dirt again on the Bears’ next drive when he busted a 27-yard run, seizing the lead and the momentum with just over a minute left in the first half.
Johnson was the only player who recorded a carry for the Bears, racking up 148 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Lambert was able respond with a quick two-play 40-yard drive to take a 17-14 lead into the half.
Unfortunately they just didn’t execute the same way in the second half. The Longhorns’ defense gave up just 144 yards and three first downs in the first half, but allowed 221 yards and seven first downs in the second half, including 170 through the air.
And after going 8 for 16 for 141 yards and a touchdown in the first half, Kenney went just 3 for 9 for 28 yards in the second half.
“When we’re executing we’re a pretty good football team, but we don’t have the biggest margin for error,” Daniel said. “We’re not the smartest team right now. We’re making a lot of mental mistakes right now.”
Early in the fourth quarter Matthew Edwards hooked up with Malachi Cooper for a 70-yard touchdown, giving the Bears a 28-24 lead that they would never relinquish.
But even with the loss, coach Daniel was impressed with his team and how they responded to adversity.
“There’s tons of heart in this team,” Daniel said. “There was times we could’ve laid down. They took momentum multiple times tonight but we battled back.”
Next week the Longhorns host a Collins Hill team that knocked them off 35-13 in the first round of the state playoffs a year ago, and Coach Daniel is hoping his team can learn something from this opening loss.
“You see the greatest improvements after a loss,” Daniel said. “This is a resilient group of guys. I think they learned they have to be better students. They have to really understand the game a little better. They gotta put a little more time in the preparation and I’m not sure we’re doing that.”