For a time, it looked as if Lambert was inching towards ending Forsyth County’s struggles against teams from neighboring Gwinnett. Enter Canyon Cook.
Lanier coach Korey Mobbs needed a spark with his senior-laden team trailing by a touchdown late in the third quarter, and did he ever get it. Cook, the Longhorns’ starting quarterback last season, took his first carry 37 yards off left tackle, then found Timothy Leazer on a jump ball for a 37-yard score on 3rd-and-9 to tie the game.
Lanier added two fourth-quarter touchdowns to polish off a 27-14 victory over Lambert Friday at The Horn.
“We feel like when we put Canyon in at quarterback, he’s electric and can make big plays for us,” Mobbs said.
Lambert (0-1) cornerback Houston Earnest thought he had intercepted Cook’s high-arcing heave to Leazer (3 catches, 53 yards, 2 TD).
“I’ve got to see on film what happened on that touchdown,” Lambert coach Louis Daniel said. “Houston came to the sideline with a confused look and said, ‘Coach, I have no idea how he caught that ball.’”
Leazer’s catch rejuvenated the visitors. Lambert, nursing a 14-7 lead, ran nearly five minutes off the clock with the opening possession of the second half and reached the Lanier 13 before three false starts led to a missed field goal from 41 yards out.
Lanier (1-0) gave the ball right back—their fourth turnover of the evening—when Lambert defensive back Patrick Noble intercepted junior quarterback Tahj Tolbert (14-for-27, 179 yards, 2 TD, INT) at the Lanier 40. Jordan Jones returned the favor two plays later for the visitors by jumping a slant route and intercepting Reid Martin.
“We were sloppy, really sloppy on both sides of the ball. Our defense really bailed us out of tough situations,” Mobbs said.
Tolbert and Lanier receiver Bolaji Ojolola (4 catches, 72 yards, TD) put the Longhorns in front for good early in the fourth quarter. Tolbert found the rangy Ojolola down the right sideline for a 41-yard gain to the Lambert 17 and again two plays later for a 14-yard touchdown.
Lanier defensive back Stefan Ball added the final tally by stepping in front of a sideline throw and sprinting untouched 49 yards to the end zone.
“We wore down in the second half,” Daniel said. “The score is the score — we can’t control that. We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes tonight. The boys played hard. We’ll get back to work Monday.”
Lambert cornerback Jeremy Johnson scored the Longhorns’ first touchdown with a 78-yard kickoff return in the first quarter.
“It was funny, actually. I told my teammates that if they kicked it deep, I was taking it for six,” Johnson said.
“We’ll be OK,” Johnson added. “Last year, we struggled to start off the season and ended up hosting a playoff game. Now that the first-game jitters are out of the way, we can just go out and play.”