WALNUT GROVE -- Taylor Grant led Lanier with a near-perfect night Friday, throwing for three touchdowns in a 42-0 victory for the Longhorns over Walnut Grove. With the win, Lanier finished with a .500 overall record in its first year of region play.
Grant was 10 of 11 for 168 yards, and the senior quarterback spread the ball around to six different receivers.
"I just tried to get everybody a touchdown score and touch," Grant said. "It was a great way to go out."
After holding the Warriors (1-9, 0-7 Region 8-AAAA) to a three-and-out, the Longhorns (5-5, 3-4 Region 8-AAAA) put a dent in the scoreboard on their first play. Grant dropped back and found Marty Sanders open down the sideline for a 45-yard TD completion. Ryan Edwards put the extra point through for a 7-0 lead with 10:57 remaining in the opening quarter.
Sanders finished the game with three catches for 75 yards and one TD. That pushed him past 1,000 yards for the season. Grant's game put him past the 2,000-yard mark in passing yards this year. Walnut Grove quarterback Joey March needed 35 yards to top 1,000, and he got just past that with 39 yards on 7 of 21 attempts in the air.
Lanier again held Walnut Grove without a first down and doubled its lead on the ensuing drive. After a big pass from Grant to Bernard Nuckles to get inside the 10-yard line, Grant found Domonick Jones in the right corner for a score to put the Longhorns up 14-0.
The Warriors started at their own 10 after a penalty on the kickoff, but the offense was able to show a little life. Quarterback Joey March connected with Demarghaiy Conner a couple of times for a first down, and then the Warriors took advantage of a couple of penalties for first downs. But a holding play at the end of the drive knocked Walnut Grove out of field goal range, forcing it to settle for a punt and an impressive drive that lasted more than 11 minutes. But it was only delaying, not stopping, the Longhorns' attack.
Lanier started the next drive with a penalty that drove it back to the 15. But the offense then drove 85 yards on seven plays, capped off with a TD run by Jordan Brannen for a 21-0 lead. After another three-and-out, Lanier took the ball 43 yards on three plays and went up 28-0 with an 1-yard run by Tario Fuller.
The Longhorns nearly put a fifth touchdown on the board as time expired on an interception by Austin Westfall. The senior picked the ball off near midfield and ran back to the 20 before getting tackled by the last Warrior defender, keeping the score 28-0 at the break.
Lanier opened the third quarter with a six-play, 70-yard touchdown drive in just 1:56. Fuller broke off runs of 27 and 7 yards but nearly turned the ball over with a fumble near the 30-yard line. Luckily for the Longhorns, Justin Jenkins covered up the ball at the 25. On the next play, Grant found Kymani Brown on the sideline, and Brown ran the ball in for a 35-0 lead.
Nuckles put Lanier's final points of the night on the board with a 15-yard TD run with 5:23 left in the third. Nuckles finished with five carries for 65 yards and a TD plus one reception for 34 yards.
Longhorns coach Billy Wells said the big win and a .500 record was a good way for his seniors to go out in the school's third season of varsity football.
"We've got 16 seniors, and we wanted all those guys to go out on a positive note," Wells said. "They certainly did a great job leading us tonight."
Wells singled out a few of his top performers for their great game Friday.
"Taylor Grant did a fine job," Wells said. "Marty Sanders. Jahbril Jones had a nice catch. Really proud of those guys on offense, but on defense, too. No. 5 Izzy Sam was sick all day and really came in and turned in a nice performance.
"I'm just really proud of the senior leadership we had on a night like tonight."