Last week, Lambert overcame a frustrating, five-turnover performance to put away Habersham Central. But in Friday’s home game against Northview, the Longhorns flipped the turnover margin, forcing five interceptions on their way to a 41-7 victory, stretching their region-winning streak to six games in a row.
Lambert (6-1, 6-0, Region 6-AAAAAA) quickly corrected the struggles of last week, executing crisply on both sides of the ball. Northview (3-4, 2-4) had no answers for the third consecutive week against the top teams in the region, losing lopsided contests against both West and South over the past two weeks.
Coming off last week’s disappointing outing, Lambert quarterback Richie Kenney bounced back in a big way, completing 10 of 18 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Kenney and the offense did most of their damage in the first half, putting up 27 points, including 17 points off of turnovers.
“Against Habersham, I’m not sure if the boys were focused,” Lambert coach Louis Daniel said. “(Tonight), the offense came out and played well. Our coaches called a great game, we put the ball in the air, Richie (Kenney) responded and the kids caught the ball.”
The Longhorns defense completely swarmed Northview in the first quarter, forcing three Titan interceptions on their first three possessions of the game. Longhorn senior captain Kyle Connor leapt in front of Titans quarterback Paul Miller’s first pass of the game and came down with the pick, giving his offense great field position at the Northview 26 yard line.
Kenney capitalized on the Titan turnover, hooking up with receiver Jaryd Jean-Felix on a 19-yard crossing pattern, giving Lambert the early edge, 7-0.
On Northview’s next drive, junior defensive back Tyler Ray flashed in front of Miller’s second pass of the contest and came down with another interception. Kenney and the offense quickly struck again when emerging young receiver Tyler Gillis hauled in a 36-yard touchdown on a seam route, doubling the Lambert lead, 14-0.
The Longhorns’ early defensive flurry concluded with a third and final first quarter interception when senior defensive back Christian Evans came down with a listless jump ball thrown by the Titans backup quarterback, who was pushed into action after Miller’s initial ineffectiveness.
Midway through the second quarter, Kenney capped off a stellar first half with his third passing touchdown, a 25-yard strike to Tanner Hall that sliced through the heart of the Titan defense. Kicker Bryce Christensen added a pair of field goals, rounding out the Longhorns lead to 27-0 heading into halftime.
“We really knew that we just had to come out here and execute in this game,” Connor said. “(We) knew we had a five-game region win streak, so we just came out here, executed and put some touchdowns up.”
With the game well in hand, the Longhorn defense continued to bear down on a beleaguered Titans offense, shutting them down twice on fourth down and adding two more interceptions. Connor snagged his second pick of the evening after tracking down a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter.
After Lambert rusher Will Kohlins punched in a 4-yard score with a little over a minute remaining in the third, defender Marcus Chatelain intercepted a wayward pass on the Northview 10 yard line and took it back to the house, making the score 41-0 and rounding out the night for the determined Lambert defense.
Up next is arguably Lambert’s biggest challenge to date: a home showdown against West. With all eyes shifted to this pivotal contest, Daniel is well aware of the task that awaits his team.
“The good thing is, you won’t have to get these boys up for West next week,” Daniel said. “They’ve had this game circled for about four weeks now, and it’s been our job to reel them back and get them to focus on the task ahead. It’s going to be a battle next week.”