The 2013 season did not begin as planned for Lambert on Friday night. Penalties and turnovers crashed the party before it even got started for the Longhorns, as they fell to Etowah in the season opener 27-10 at home.
Lambert’s offense had an inauspicious start as they were unable to pick up a first down until the second quarter. Miscommunication and costly penalties along the offensive line stalled Lambert’s early attempts to get their offense in rhythm and allowed Etowah to win the field position battle handily in the first half. The Eagles were able to capitalize, scoring three touchdowns before the half while keeping the Longhorns defense on the field by leaning heavily on their running game.
The Longhorns’ offense would not stay quiet for the entire first half however, as sophomore quarterback Tucker Maxwell checked into the game, ran for a 76-yard touchdown on his first play. Maxwell continued to take snaps from behind center, rotating with senior quarterback Hayden McLeod. McLeod started the game for the Longhorns (0-1, 0-0 Region 6-AAAAAA), but a combination of penalties and inefficiency in the passing game forced the Longhorns to put the game in the hands of Maxwell.
"It was really a combination of penalties and missed snaps," Lambert coach Sid Maxwell said. "We can’t turn the ball over and win, and the penalties hurt us and we had to make plays."
The Longhorns paid the price for their early mishaps, going into the half trailing 24-7.
The second half proved to be a defensive battle for both teams, as only six total points were scored after intermission. Etowah’s three leading rushers combining for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
However, the Longhorns defense was able to limit the Etowah passing attack to only 22 yards on 11 pass attempts as the secondary had several pass deflections. Senior linebacker Connor McCann was a standout on the defensive side for the Longhorns, as he highlighted a strong second half effort with a solid tackle for loss to stifle a late Etowah drive.
Lambert’s special teams performed well in limited action with junior Patrick Noble recovering an onside kick in the third quarter. Sophomore kicker/wide receiver Tanner Hall also delivered on special teams, drilling a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter to cap off the Longhorns’ scoring for the night.
The only gaffe came on the first drive, as the snap to Tucker Maxwell, who was lined up to punt, was out of his reach as he was forced to corral the ball in the end zone, just getting off a punt that gave Etowah a chance to score on its first drive.
The Longhorns’ performance was not what coach Maxwell had envisioned for his young team, but he saw a lot of things to build on moving forward.
"We had a lot of young guys out here tonight, several of them first timers who just need to gain more experience under the lights," Maxwell said. "After the first quarter I thought we settled down, made some big plays and just had some misfires at the wrong times. When that happens you just have to get momentum eventually, and we just didn’t have it all night."
The Longhorns will play at Roswell next week.