DULUTH – In a game that can only be described as a purely defensive struggle, Lambert travelled to Northview and shut out the Titans on their way to a 3-0 win on Friday, stretching the Longhorn's win streak to three games in a row.
Lambert (4-3, 4-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) kicker Tanner Hall notched an early 40 yard field goal in the first quarter, unknowingly supplying the Longhorns with the only points they would need in the contest. Northview (5-2, 4-2) looked lost offensively through for the majority of the game as penalties and miscues burdened the Titans’ offense and extended their offensive scoring drought to eight consecutive quarters.
"We've been telling the guys on defense that they have to believe in themselves and the scheme," Lambert coach Louis Daniel said. "We've been preaching and teaching to our guys and everything lined up for us tonight. Offensively, we missed some scoring opportunities and didn't execute, but I'm proud of our guys for grinding out there tonight."
The Longhorns’ defense continued their impressive work of late, holding the Northview offense to only 39 yards rushing, forcing the Titans to continually try to move the ball through the air. Northview quarterback Drew Pearson (14-for-29, 207 yards, 2 INTs) had a scattershot performance, partly due to the consistent pass rush pressuring him to leave the pocket and throw from uncomfortable angles.
Offensively, Lambert played conservatively after the Hall field goal gave them a quick lead in the first quarter. Running back Trevor O' Brien (28 carries, 95 yards) displayed grit and determination against a defense that was focused on limiting his effectiveness. The Longhorn's defense set the tone for the team, leaving the offense to simply manage the clock and hold on to the ball.
"Hopefully, a game like this teaches a team to trust," Daniel said. "It reminds them to trust in the scheme and trust in each other, and trust allows everyone to just go out there and make plays."
Northview was penalized nine times for 70 yards during the game, but none was bigger than a block-in-the-back call with 3:29 left in the third quarter that negated a huge punt return for the Titans and backed them up inside their own territory. Seven plays later, the Titans were forced to punt.
With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Northview had one last as they drove into Lambert territory. But the Longhorn defense held strong once again as defensive back Justyn Jean-Felix intercepted a Pearson pass in the front of the end zone, putting an end to the defensive duel.
"As soon as I saw (Pearson) moving, I just stuck with my receiver," Jean-Felix said. "When the ball came to me, I just knew that I had to come down with the catch and save the game for my team."