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Lambert outlasts Chattahoochee to stay in playoff hunt
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Lamber’s Trevon McSwain (left) and David Plante (71) converge on Chattahoochee quarterback David Nicoletta. The Longhorns’ defense held the Cougars to just one touchdown and a field goal. - photo by Kevin O'Brien

Lambert 20, Chattahoochee 9

Chattahoochee 0 9 0 0–9

Lambert 7 0 6 7–20

First Quarter

L: Cole 2 run (kick good) 7:30

Second Quarter

C: Hundley 2 run (kick missed), 9:48

C: FG Gray 31, 1:04

Third Quarter

L: Shepherd 17 run (run failed), 1:04

Fourth Quarter

L: Cole 2 run (kick good), 1:53

As the team captains for Lambert walked towards mid-field to meet their Chattahoochee counterparts, a light mist began falling upon The Horn. Minutes later, the mist had become sheets of icy rain.

Despite the unpleasant weather, Lambert gutted out a tough 20-9 win on Halloween in front of their home crowd with the help of a herculean performance from senior running back Trevor O’Brien.

O’Brien (39 carries, 307 yards) found running room on almost every carry, averaging 7.9 yards per touch. Lambert (6-3 overall, 6-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) combated the dismal on-field conditions by repeatedly feeding O’Brien, hammering the same Chattahoochee (2-7, 2-6) defense that gave up 435 yards to South Forsyth running back Tyler LaFlamme earlier this season.

"The rain in the first half took out our passing game, so I knew I was going to get the ball a lot," O’Brien said. "We knew that if we could execute like we usually do, we could have a heck of game against their defense. If they can’t stop us, our mentality is to keep (running) it until they do."

Lambert missed field goal attempts of 35 and 27 yards, partly due to winds gusting upwards of 20 miles per hour. Similarly, the Longhorn passing game was nearly non-existent as quarterback Drew Cole (1-for-9, 13 yards) had great difficulty finding his receivers amongst the elements.

"The conditions really affected our kicking game and some of our passes," Lambert coach Louis Daniel said. "But our kids came out in the second half, regardless of the weather, and finished this game. We’ve had two emotional games in a row against Northview and West Forsyth, and we avoided a let-down game tonight."

Lambert trailed Chattahoochee 9-7 as the third quarter began, but the Longhorns came out strong in the second half, shutting out the Cougars’ offense while simultaneously controlling the ball with their dominant rushing attack. With 5:14 remaining in the third quarter, Lambert put together a 10-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown run by senior Hunter Shepherd, taking 4:10 off the clock and putting the Longhorns up 13-9.

The Longhorns sealed the game in the fourth quarter with another run-heavy drive, bleeding the clock down to 1:52 remaining on their way to cashing in a two-yard touchdown plunge by Cole, making it a two-possession game at 20-9. Senior defensive back Houston Earnest intercepted an over-thrown Cougar pass 39 seconds later, allowing his team to kneel away the final seconds of the game.

With a win against Chattahoochee in the rear-view mirror, Lambert now can turn its full attention to next Friday’s regular season finale against arch-rival South Forsyth, a contest which is brimming with playoff implications.

"Although it’s my first year in this rivalry, I know how huge this game is," O’Brien said. "We’ve been talking about it all year and this game is for the No. 2 seed and a playoff home game. Right now, it’s officially ‘South Week.’"