Lanier's Taylor Grant (10)
SUGAR HILL -- In a final tuneup before embarking on the program's inaugural season of region play, Lanier's Taylor Grant passed for 174 yards and two touchdowns and the Longhorns pulled away in the second half for a 23-0 win over Franklin County on Friday night in Sugar Hill.
It appeared Lanier (2-1) was on the way to a rout early. On the third play from scrimmage, Marty Sanders took a Grant swing pass and weaved 30 yards down the sideline for a touchdown and quick 7-0 Longhorns lead.
But following the explosive start, the game turned into a punting contest with neither team able to sustain an offensive drive the remainder of the half.
"With a young team and you score early, sometimes you get lulled into that," said Lanier head coach Billy Wells, "but by the same token we didn't have great field position and that changes what you do."
After a 19-yard field goal by Ryan Edwards extended the lead to 10-0 midway through the third quarter, the play of the Longhorn special teams sealed the game.
On the first play of the fourth quarter with Franklin County in punt formation, the snap sailed over the head of Lions punter Red Montgomery to give Lanier possession on the Franklin County 12-yard line. Lanier immediately capitalized the next play as Bernard Nuckles sliced off the right side for a 12-yard TD and 16-0 lead.
"Their punt team did a great job on the snaps and getting the ball off all night so that was a big play," Wells said. "For our kids the immediate concern is we want to attack right then. We were real proud of our offensive line coming in on that play and seizing the momentum."
After an interception by Lanier's Austin Westfall, the Longhorns capped the scoring when Sanders snagged his second TD of the game on a 19-yard reception midway through the fourth quarter to provide the final margin.
The game also marked the offensive debut of Tario Fuller. After moving from linebacker, the sophomore made his first start one to remember rushing for 106 yards on 23 carries.
"He's got a lot of talent," said Wells, "he's really a great athlete and great kid and we're excited to have him. He did a really good job for us in his first start as a sophomore."
Grant led the Longhorns going 11-for-15 for 174 yards with two TDs and one interception. Sanders finished with three catches for 61 yards and two TDs.
Lanier opens Region 8-AAAA play next Friday when it hosts Madison County.