Lambert 40, South Forsyth 7
South Forsyth 0 7 0 0_7
Lambert 6 0 20 14_40
L: O’Brien 13 run (kick missed), 6:13
SF: LaFlamme 8 run (kick good), 11:39
L: Kohlins 34 pass from Cole (run failed), 8:55
L: O’Brien 3 run (kick good), 6:19
L: Hall 9 pass from O’Brien (kick good), 0:24
L: Noble 58 interception return (kick good), 11:14
L: Shepherd 1 run (kick good), 6:02
Lambert running back Trevor O’Brien keeps answering the bell, and the Longhorns keep winning.
Two weeks ago, it was a last-minute, game-winning touchdown in a contentious return to his former school. This week, the senior read and heard the comparisons to South Forsyth running back Tyler LaFlamme, the county’s leading rusher. It wasn’t even close on Friday night at the Horn.
O’Brien rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns and threw to Tanner Hall for another score as Lambert downed neighborhood rival South, 40-7, using 34 unanswered second-half points to earn a first-round home playoff game against Roswell next Friday night. South fell to the No. 3 seed and will travel to Etowah to open the state playoffs.
The Longhorns’ leading rusher was succinct when asked whether trying to measure up with LaFlamme added any extra motivation.
"Oh yeah," he said. "Oh yeah."
South’s (6-4, 6-3 in Region 6-AAAAAA) plan from the first snap: here’s Pup (LaFlamme) — let’s see if you can stop him. The flaw in that plan: four of LaFlamme’s first seven runs went for negative yardage as Adison Schimmelpfenning and Justyn Jean-Felix each notched two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
O’Brien, on the other hand, took his first run 22 yards and his second carry 13 yards, front-flipping over a South defender in to the end zone for an early Lambert (7-3, 7-2) lead.
LaFlamme’s longest run of the night — eight yards — went for a second-quarter touchdown and a 7-6 lead that the War Eagles took to halftime. It would be the last time South led.
"We came out in the second half and it just started going the other way and we couldn’t stop it," South coach Jeff Arnette said. "Once they got going, we couldn’t get out of our own way. Lambert jumped on us pretty good and we were reeling."
If a football coach ever says ‘we take it one game at a time’ or ‘we can’t worry about what’s in the past’: ignore them. Lambert head coach Louis Daniel was the offensive coordinator last season of a Longhorns team that lost, 21-14, at South in September. The Horns totaled under 200 yards of offense.
"What they did to us last year at South, they whipped us," Daniel said. "Our kids and staff came away a little embarrassed after that and we didn’t want that to happen again. We’ve always prided ourselves defensively on being able to stop the run first and foremost."
And stop the run they did: LaFlamme, who entered Friday’s contest averaging 155 rushing yards per game, was held to just 12 yards on 13 carries (0.9 yards per carry).
"I think Tyler was a little dinged up, and you could tell he was hurting," Daniel said. "He’s a punishing runner, a downhill runner, and if you’re not gap-sound, he’s going to kill you. [Tyler] didn’t have any open lanes to run."
Even when South led, the War Eagles’ hold on the game felt tenuous. South traveled 80 yards on its lone touchdown drive—31 on a pass from Matt White (12-for-23, 158 yards, two interceptions) to Jalen Camp (two catches, 37 yards), whose second-half absence due to injury hampered the War Eagles’ passing game; 13 on a pass from White to Cameron Kline (five catches, 71 yards), 22 yards on a Sam Outlaw run, and LaFlamme’s 8-yard score—but the War Eagles gained just 25 yards on their other four first-half possessions.
Lambert’s Jeremy Johnson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 38 yards and nearly broke loose for a touchdown, and that gave the Longhorns a jolt. Drew Cole (6-for-6, 93 yards, touchdown) hit Mac Redmond for 23 yards on third-and-8, then rolled to his right and found sophomore Eric Kohlins (four carries, 23 yards; two catches, 39 yards, touchdown) on a shallow cross. Kohlins did the rest, using a perfect perimeter block to spring a 34-yard touchdown and give Lambert a lead for good.
"Biggest series of the football game was the first drive of the second half," Daniel said. "We went in at halftime knowing we had a great game plan. Our offense came to the locker room and said, ‘We just have to execute.’ Our defense came in and said the same thing."
O’Brien added a 3-yard touchdown run and, after Will Dunavant sacked White and caused a fumble that Trevon McSwain recovered, a 9-yard touchdown pass to Hall on a trick play as Lambert turned a one-point deficit in to a 26-7 lead after three quarters.
If doubt remained, Lambert defensive back Patrick Noble snuffed out any flicker of South hope when he jumped White’s pass to an unaware receiver and sprinted 58 yards down the left sideline, powering through two War Eagles at the goal line for a touchdown. The Longhorns’ Brian Wright added a fourth-quarter interception; the sophomore defensive back grabbed a tipped pass and broke three tackles on a 49-yard return.
Lambert stretched its winning streak to six games; the Longhorns have outscored opponents 178-55 since a Sept. 19 loss to Region 6-AAAAAA champion Alpharetta.
"They believe in each other and they believe in us," Daniel said. "You still saw it tonight—they look around sometimes like they’re not quite sure they belong. And by god, they do."