This story was first published in the Forsyth County News on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010.
By BJ Corbitt
Two years ago, many players on the winning side of Friday night’s showdown at The Horn would have been devasted by a South Forsyth loss.
But loyalties have shifted since then.
A Lambert team populated with former South players made a gritty statement against the War Eagles, using an A-plus effort on defense to blank South 10-0 in front of a packed house in Suwanee.
“You know, the boys played hard. We played tough. For a young football team, they had a big environment out here and they rose up to the challenge,” Longhorns head coach Sid Maxwell said.
Most of the rising came on the defensive side of the ball, where Lambert (3-1 overall, 3-1 Region 7-AAAA) forced South (2-1, 2-1) to punt five times, snared an interception and blocked a field goal attempt.
“Our defense has played hard all year, even in the Chattahoochee game,” Maxwell said, invoking Lambert’s only loss of the year so far.
“They’ve got some great backs [at South] and Coach Arnette does a great job, and we were able to get more than one person to those big backs and hang on and keep them from picking up first downs.”
Maxwell was personally restrained about the win, but noted that it meant a lot to his first-year varsity players, many of whom played at South before Lambert opened in 2009.
“It’s a region win for me. I know for my guys, just being in the community, they’ve got a long line of played against each other for years, I guess. You know, every win is special to me because you don’t know when you’re going to get the next one,” the coach said.
The budding rivalry is obviously important to players like Lambert’s Matt Ham.
“This means a lot, because [many of us] went to South two years ago. It’s just going to be a great rivalry for years. A week’s worth of talking trash, and we were the team that showed up to play,” said the junior linebacker, who played on South’s freshman team two years ago.
South coach Jeff Arnette tipped his hat to the Longhorns in defeat.
“You know, we just made more mistakes than they did tonight. They played a really, really good football game. I can’t even pinpoint any major mistakes they made, and they deserve the game tonight. They played better than we did,” Arnette said.
“I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there. They had field position on us most of the night, but we kept fighting, we kept clawing, and we’re going to come back fighting on Monday.”
All the game’s scoring came in the first half.
Lambert took the opening possession just a yard shy of midfield after a solid kickoff return by Corey Guhl. On fourth-and-1 at the South 17, Lambert opted for a 33-yard field goal attempt by John Pickering, a low arcing kick that split the uprights to make it 3-0 with 3:44 elapsed in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Lambert forced South to punt from its own 5-yard line, setting up the Longhorns with great field position as Lambert started from South’s 34.
Quarterback David Broadus faked a backfield exchange on the second play of the series, then ran around the left side and found plenty of room for a 30=yard touchdown run, make it 10-0 with 6:32 left before halftime.
Broadus was knocked out of the game early in the third quarter, as he left the field limping. Backup Brock Maxwell captained the offense the rest of the way, but Lambert only managed to set up Pickering for two more field goal attempts, both unsuccessful.
Coach Maxwell couldn’t offer much information on Broadus’ injury, but pointed out the team has two weeks to heal before the next game.
South’s offense got into promising position a few times, but Lambert stepped up to snuff out any threats each time.
On the War Eagles’ first possession of the game, Paul Buurman lined up to try a 27-yard field goal, but Nathan Litras blocked the kick.
The Eagles penetrated to the Lambert 38 in the final minute of the first half, but defensive end Zach Price picked off Nick Belyew (154 yards passing) to kill the drive.
In addition, South went three-and-out three of eight possessions.
Belyew hit Jason Howard (91 yards on four catches) for a 43-yard strike in the closing seconds of the game, moving South to the Lambert 37 with time for one more play.
Belyew’s final pass sailed past the end zone with triple goose eggs on the clock, preserving the shutout for Lambert.
South only had 57 seconds to work with on its final series, after being hit with a 12-men penalty on a fourth-and-4 play as Lambert was lining up to punt with 3:16 left to play. The flag gave the Longhorns five free yards and a first down, allowing them to bleed another two minutes off the clock before punting to the War Eagles.
Lambert had no individual offensive standout, but saw five backs rush for at least 30 yards, with Ryan Stevens (58 yards) leading the team.