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O'Brien's late TD seals Lambert win over West Forsyth
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Lambert running back Trevor O'Brien runs for part of his 100 yards on Friday night at The Den in a win over his former team. - photo by Kevin O'Brien

Lambert 33, West Forsyth 27

Lambert 6 17 0 10—33

W. Forsyth 7 6 7 7—27

First Quarter

WF: Anderskow 15 run (kick good), 5:49

L: Cole 2 run (kick missed), 1:34

Second Quarter

L: Hall 28 pass from Cole (kick good), 10:47

L: Hall FG 38, 7:06

WF: Schmitz 44 pass from McConnell (kick missed), 4:35

L: Hall 59 pass from Cole (kick good), 2:44

Third Quarter

WF: Schmitz 31 pass from McConnell (kick good), 2:45

Fourth Quarter

WF: Anderskow 92 pass from McConnell (kick good), 9:38

L: Safety, 3:21

L: O’Brien 7 run (run good), 0:22

As The Den emptied out, a group of West Forsyth students walked the bleachers, collecting both trash and their thoughts on Friday night’s game.

“It’s not so much how it happened,” one student said. “It’s just…who it was that did it.”

The who: former West running back Trevor O’Brien, now at Lambert for his senior season. The how: a game-winning, 7-yard touchdown run by O’Brien with just 22 seconds remaining that gave O’Brien a win over his former team and Lambert a crucial 33-27 road win.

“It’s huge. I’m speechless, I don’t know what to say,” O’Brien said. “I’ve been looking forward to this game since the schedule came out; even during Northview week, I had West on my mind. That’s a game I won’t forget for the rest of my life.”

Lambert (5-3 overall, 5-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) took over at midfield with 3:14 left to play, trailing 27-25, and that’s when O’Brien (27 carries, 100 yards, touchdown) took over. Four yards. One yard. 15 yards. 11 yards. Six yards. One yard. Nine yards, after a false start. And, finally, 7 yards. That was the entirety of the Longhorns’ final drive—eight plays, eight O’Brien runs, 54 yards and eight points.

“Our offensive line hasn’t quite been clicking, but you can tell we’re almost there,” Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said. “In the fourth quarter, though, they started to push on West a little bit. We’ve been on our kids about finishing better. Last week was the first time we’d seen the defense finish; tonight was the first time we’d seen the offense finish.”

Before the Longhorns’ game-winning drive, West (4-4, 4-3) had bottled up O’Brien, holding him to just 46 yards on 19 carries. O’Brien had a 68-yard touchdown run called back in the third quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct on a Lambert receiver for taunting away from the play.

“I don’t know if it was us being tired or just them being juiced up on the last drive,” West head coach Adam Clack said. “We still were playing with a lot of emotion. It’s the fourth quarter. That’s when good backs are going to start leaning forward for more yards and spinning out of tackles.”

Lambert quarterback Drew Cole punished the Wolverines for loading the box to stop the run by completing 8 of 14 attempts for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Tanner Hall caught six of those throws for 161 yards and both scores, many of them on back-shoulder throws that West defensive backs were helpless against.

“When you’ve got a kid like Tanner, just throw the ball up to him,” Daniel said.

West’s Grant Anderskow (five carries, 54 yards, touchdown; two catches, 106 yards, touchdown) put the Wolverines ahead on their first possession with a 15-yard touchdown run and put West in front again in the fourth quarter, erasing a 23-13 Lambert lead. Quarterback Hampton McConnell (11-for-17, 252 yards, three touchdowns, interception) hit Anderskow on a screen with 9:38 left in the fourth behind a wall of West offensive linemen. The senior slot back cut left and outraced everyone for a 92-yard touchdown.

McConnell dealt with cramps all night but was efficient, especially on deep passes to Nate Schmitz. The pair linked up for touchdown passes of 44 and 31 yards, both on jump balls that Schmitz fought for and won. McConnell looked to Schmitz (eight catches, 130 yards, two touchdowns) often in the absence of Austin Reid, who Clack said was taken to the hospital for X-Rays on what looked to be a fractured wrist.

West had to like its chances after Anderskow’s second touchdown. The Wolverines forced a Lambert punt on the next possession when Ryan Guthrie sacked Cole and Kyndall Phillips broke up a third-down pass.

And then: disaster. West had a quarterback run called, but McConnell signaled to coaches that he was cramping and couldn’t run. In the meantime, the snap on third-and-3 flew over the quarterback’s unwitting head. Grant Torgerson (17 carries, 57 yards) recovered on the 1-yard line. McConnell took the punt snap and stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety, reducing the Wolverines’ lead to 27-25.

“I still feel like taking the safety was the right move,” Clack said. “I think you’ve got to do that, with a four-point lead. You can’t risk that. They were still going to have to get first downs. They had already got their hands on one punt and it was going to be a closer distance punting out of our own end zone.”

Lambert took the safety kickoff to midfield, setting the stage for O’Brien. Of course it was No. 2. It was always going to be No. 2 clinching a win after enduring a week of social media trash-talk leading up to the game.

“I just took it all in and it was fuel to the fire,” O’Brien said. “I had to take my new team and help them beat my old team. We had the heart to finish it off.”

O’Brien entered the Longhorns’ postgame gathering holding the Wolverhorn Trophy—that he watched Lambert lift at The Den last Nov. 8. Daniel said he doesn’t give out game balls, but he made an exception on Friday night.