South Forsyth students poured onto the field as the final seconds ticked away, literally tearing the hinges off the field gate in order to celebrate.
The War Eagles knocked off their biggest rival for the first time in program history, topping Lambert 21-14 behind 275 rushing yards on Friday at a packed War Eagle Stadium.
The win marked the first time South (4-0, 1-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) has started a season 4-0 since 2003.
"We knew coming out that we were going to run it down their throat and hit them in the mouth and push them in the end zone, and that’s what we did," South running back Tyler LaFlamme said. "We just came out in the second half ready to play. We had great blocking…and we just played like we knew how to play."
And that’s just what South did.
With the War Eagles trailing 14-13 with 10:25 left in the fourth quarter, they went on a 12-play, 73-yard touchdown drive, capped by LaFlamme’s 1-yard run up the middle. The drive took 6:44 off the clock as South seized a 21-14 lead after a two-point conversion pass from Matt White (7-of-18, 71 yards) to Cameron Kline.
The Longhorns (1-3, 0-1) took over on their own 20 yard line, but were forced to punt after two sacks and an incompletion. South couldn’t manage a first down and punted it back with 1:30 left and the ball on the Lambert 35.
Lambert moved the ball only six yards before Tucker Maxwell (5-for-14, 89 yards) fumbled and South’s Robby Johnson recovered with just over a minute left to seal the game.
"I just told them I believed in them and it was our time," South coach Jeff Arnette said. "We put in the work and we got a bunch of guys who committed this week. I’ve never seen our team so focused. I told them I felt like I was looking at a new team."
Both offenses struggled to move the ball in the first half, but Lambert managed to take a 7-0 lead into halftime on an early score in the second quarter. Maxwell dropped back on second-and-8 and found Jeremy Johnson wide open down the middle of the field for a 51-yard touchdown pass.
The War Eagles came out of the break on fire, as they forced a quick three-and-out and allowed the offense to take over at their own 30. Isaiah Williams (20 carries, 84 yards) guided the team down the field with seven carries and one reception, en route to a 14-play, 70-yard touchdown drive finished off by LaFlamme’s (11 carries, 69 yards) 3-yard blast to tie the game at 7-apiece.
It only took South one play to score on its ensuing drive, as sophomore Grant Umberger (12 carries, 135 yards) powered his way up the middle for 77 yards to make the score 13-7 with 1:48 left in the third after a failed two-point conversion.
"I couldn’t have done anything without my offensive line," Umberger said. "They did a great job out there. I just was able to run."
Lambert had a difficult time, something coach Sid Maxwell attributed to injuries and missed opportunites.
"We had a few kids get banged up early in the second or third quarter and we just [didn’t] step up and make a play or two," Maxwell said. "We had some opportunities. The young men played hard, South played hard. …We just came out on the bottom."