In what seemed to be a ghostly flashback to the horrors of last season, the were shocked to the core Friday night in a stunning last second loss to the Lambert Longhorns.
After for trailing for much of the night, the four-year old Suwanee based Longhorns team took a slim, but yet deafening, two-point lead over the Hornets on a 35-yard field goal with 4.5 seconds remaining.
The Longhorns managed to dazzle the maturing Hornets defense with a running display like no other. Taking “ground and pound” to a new level, the Longhorns rushed the ball a total of 37 times, gaining an astounding 271 rushing yards. While most damage was done with two 50 plus yard runs by speedy senior quarterback Brock Maxwell, Lambert was relentless when running the ball.
The Longhorn game plan seemed to be very much devoid of passing the ball. At one point in the third quarter, the Longhorns had only one attempted pass. For the option and keeper laden offense, passing was a after thought for basically the entirety of the game. In fact, Maxwell was a putrid 1 of 8 in the passing game.
However, the one pass that Maxwell did complete may haunt Hornets fans for weeks to come. Backed up at their own 24-yard line with only 20.7 seconds remaining, the Longhorns took a leap of faith with the commonly unsuccessful, and rather ineffective, hook and ladder play call. With the help of a bit of trickery, a short five-yard slant morphed into an unthinkable 56 yards strike into Roswell territory, putting the Longhorns in field goal range with a matter of seconds remaining. A successful Lambert field goal attempted shattered what would have been the Hornet’s second win of the young season.
The loss to Lambert, which some may label as an upset after Roswell’s big win last week, is a gut check for the talented Roswell team.
After last week’s leisurely victory over , several concerns from the 2011 season resurfaced in the frustrating, but hard fought, game versus Lambert. The inability to stop the run consistently - which was extremely troublesome throughout last season - was a major problem against a run oriented team like Lambert. Unlike Centennial, who gave up on the running game rather quickly, Lambert continued to run against the stout Hornet defense even when down by as much as ten.
After a stellar first half in which he was 8 for 12 for 108 yards and a touchdown, senior quarterback Ryan Monty disappeared from the game plan in the second half. Monty only attempted three passes, completing two for over forty yards running filled end of the game. Similar to last season, the Hornets seemed to become more complacent as the game worn on, especially when up by two scores.
While the Hornets may have left Longhorn Country opened handed Friday night, the team showed promising signs of a team on the verge of breaking out. Senior running back Andrew Kwateng, who fueled the Hornets onslaught of the Centennial last week, rushed for 185-yards and one touchdown on 35 carriers. Through two games, Kwateng has already amassed 424 yards rushing, as well as four touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Shakur Jackson, despite a first half fumble, showed bursts of speed and elusiveness when backing up Kwateng. Similar to Corey Wilson’s role last year, Jackson gave Kwateng a chance to rest as well as the Hornets a small change in the running game. It is hard to imagine just how deadly the Hornet rushing attack team may have been like if Wilson, who was released from the program last season after an altercation with head coach Justin Sanderson, was still on the team.
Despite a disappointing last second loss to Lambert, the Hornets remain focused and determined to go the distance this season. The Hornets will take on Johns Creek offense next week. Make no mistake; the Hornets will be hungry for a win next week.
“I’d hate to play us next week,” tweeted invigorated senior wide receiver Bennett Barton after Friday’s disappointment.