BUFORD — Lanier easily took care of business to wrap up the regular season on Senior Night with a 41-0 win over Walnut Grove, giving the Longhorns momentum for their first-ever trip to the state playoffs.
Longhorn head coach Billy Wells, whose team plays at Carver-Atlanta next week in the playoff opener, made sure his team was not looking ahead despite locking up their postseason berth last week.
“It’s important when you get to Week 10 to finish strong,” said Wells. “This week was preparation for next week.”
Lanier (8-2, 5-2 Region 8-AAAA) got a very strong performance from its defense, only allowing three first downs the entire game, all of which came in the first half and two were the result of Longhorn penalties. Grey Lee Williams, Jeremy Taylor, and Ricky Viengxay each picked off a pass in the game and Walnut Grove (1-9, 0-7 Region 8-AAAA) actually ended the night with minus-one yard of total offense.
Each team went three and out on its first possession but the Longhorns got on the board following Taylor’s interception as senior Ryan Edwards connected on his first of two field goals on the night from 31 yards out.
Later in the first half following a 10-yard touchdown pass to starting quarterback Canyon Cook from Tahj Tolbert the defense forced a fumble in the Warriors’ end zone and Derrick Brown was able to fall on it for a TD.
Another three and out for the Warriors followed and a 19-yard punt from the three yard line gave the Longhorns great field position at the Walnut Grove 22. Tario Fuller took over carrying the ball all five plays and scoring his only TD of the night from a yard out with 6:58 left in the half giving Lanier a 24-0 lead.
Cook connected with Devin Valentine for a 29-yard TD pass and Marcella Baity had a 19-yard run for a score to go along with Edward’s second field goal from 34 yards out to finish out the scoring for the Longhorns in the second half.
Fuller led the Longhorns’ offensive attack with 16 carries for 140 yards and only one of those was in the second half. Fuller was unaware he had such an impressive night but was excited about the opportunity ahead for his team.
“It’s very special and means a lot,” said Fuller. “I didn’t even realize I broke a hundred but I couldn’t do it without everybody around me so I owe it all to them.”
Now that the Longhorns have reached the second season for the first time Wells is ready to take the next step.
“When we started the program four years ago we kind of had a time table to get to the playoffs in year four,” said Wells. “We feel like we’re on track. We’ve made history by being the first playoff team and now we’d like to be the first playoff team to win.”
LANIER 41, WALNUT GROVE 0
Walnut Grove 0 0 0 0 - 0
Lanier 10 14 17 0 - 41
Lanier: Ryan Edwards 31 FG 6:05
Lanier: Canyon Cook 10 pass from Tahj Tolbert (Edwards kick) 2:58
Lanier: Derrick Brown fumble recovery in end zone (Edwards kick) 10:22
Lanier: Tario Fuller 1 run (Edwards kick) 6:58
Lanier: Devin Valentine 29 pass from Cook (Edwards kick) 10:20
Lanier: Edwards 34 FG 7:25
Lanier: Marcella Baity 19 run (Edwards kick) 3:56