BUFORD -- Playing just its second varsity football opponent in program history, Lanier picked up its first varsity win by defeating Hapeville Charter 23-7 in front of a very excited home crowd Friday night.
The Longhorns (1-0) took advantage of good field position as a result of Hapeville (0-2) only having one of their six punts go over 30 yards. The Hornets were forced to punt from inside their own 20-yard line early in the second quarter and Kelley McCoy made them pay by fielding the kick at the Hapeville 38-yard line and returning it for a touchdown.
The Lanier defense was solid all night and put to the test in the second quarter. The defense spent close to 10 minutes on the field but did not give up any points. Head coach Billy Wells was impressed with the way his guys answered the challenge.
"It was a little bit of a gut check for those guys. We kind of wanted to see how the guys would respond," Wells said.
Longhorn kicker Gemosiah Vang had a very productive night going 3-for-4 on field goals and converting both extra point opportunities. His third field goal, which came from 32 yards out, helped put the game away after the Hornets had shown some life and scored a TD on a 10-yard run from Datruan Poole just as the fourth quarter got under way. The score ended Lanier's bid for a shutout.
Lanier running back Donte Borders had a strong return after missing most of last season with a broken ankle, rushing for 84 yards on 16 carries. Freshman Bernard Nuckles came in and got all the carries in the third quarter. He had 35 yards on seven carries, including the only TD the offense scored from a yard out to give the Longhorns a 20-0 lead late in the third quarter.
"It's nice. Second varsity game and first varsity win so it's nice," said Wells. "I am really proud of the guys. We challenged them to not let them get happy in the second half and come out like it was 0-0 and just keep working on fundamentals and they did a good job against a team with a lot of speed."