It took the better part of three quarters for Friday night’s game between Lambert and North Forsyth to heat up, but the final few plays transformed the region contest into an unforgettable classic as the visiting Longhorns narrowly defeated the Raiders 14-13.
Lambert (2-3, 1-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) amassed a 14-point lead in the early stages of the game and appeared to disable North’s offense. But in the final quarter, North (4-1, 1-1) stormed back into the game by scoring two touchdowns, the second coming with only 1.2 seconds left on the clock.
With the possibility of overtime looming, North coach Jason Galt made the weighty decision to attempt a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra point and tying the game. When North’s pass attempt dropped off the hands of the intended receiver, Lambert players rushed on to the field in jubilation, knowing that they had secured a much needed region win.
"Hats off to the defensive players and coaches," Lambert coach Sid Maxwell said. "We got a lot of young kids out here learning and we were able to put some scores together. But overall, it was a brilliant effort in all three phases of the game."
North’s fourth quarter comeback was sparked by the tenacity of Jamal Davenport’s running, culminating in a punishing 45-yard touchdown run that pulled North within seven points with 7:33 left in the game. The Raiders’ defense saved their best for last, stifling Lambert’s offense throughout the fourth quarter and giving North’s offense a chance to create a thrilling finish.
North’s last drive came with only 2:42 left on the clock, but it gave the Raiders just enough time to move the length of the field and capitalize on a dazzling last-second touchdown catch by Luke Slaton. However, Slaton was unable to haul in the final crucial pass from Harris Roberts on the two-point conversion attempt, thereby ending the game.
"Basically, I felt like [Lambert] pretty much controlled us all night long," Galt said. "We got some breaks late, but for us to go down and score another touchdown like that without momentum … we just decided to go for two right there and try to win the game. They were just a little better than us tonight and I already told our guys that one game will not define our season."
This highly-anticipated contest began slowly as both offenses had difficulty moving the football and sustaining drives. Plentiful punts, fourth down failures and missed field goals were on display as both teams desperately tried to grab control of the game.
Lambert finally broke through late in the second quarter as Kameron Pickett (21 carries, 92 yards) punched in a 4-yard touchdown to give the Longhorns a 7-0 lead.
Continuing to build on their first half momentum, Lambert’s Jeremy Johnson took the second half kickoff and sprinted downfield for a 62-yard return, giving the Longhorns fantastic field position. Two plays later, quarterback Tucker Maxwell (8-of-14 passing for 81 yards) found a wide open Tanner Hall with a beautiful 30-yard fade route for a touchdown to put Lambert up 14-0 with 11:13 left in the third.
"It’s been a little difficult," Tucker Maxwell said about his transition to being the full-time signal caller. "I have had to work on reading coverages and making the right reads. I’ve learned the read-option very well and I’m getting better at breaking down defenses."
It was a crucial win for Lambert after a tumultuous start to the season. But for any real progress to be made by the Longhorns, Sid Maxwell said on-field consistency is of the utmost importance.
"The bottom line is taking these games week by week," he said. "Now, we’re back in the hunt and in control of our own destiny. That’s all you can really ask for."