By LORI LYONS, Journal Sports
NEW ORLEANS — The Northwood Falcons had one team to beat to reach their goal of getting to the semifinals for the first time in school history, but Brother Martin had one player that simply couldn’t be stopped Friday night.
Brother Martin senior running back Torey Lambert rushed 47 times for a career-high and school-record 301 yards and two touchdowns to give the No. 13 Crusaders a 28-14 win over No. 5 Northwood and a spot in next week’s LHSAA Select Division I semifinals.
Brother Martin (8-5) earned its fourth semifinals appearance in four years. Northwood finished the season 9-3 after losing in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in six years.
“We’re just happy we got to experience this and get after it,” Northwood coach Austin Brown said. “I don’t think people realize that we’ve won more playoff games in six years than we had in the last 60 years. We’re still a program that’s growing and building, and when you go toe-to-toe with the big dogs it’s a good measuring stick. We’ve got some room to grow still.”
Lambert, a 6-foot, 190-pound Texas State commitment, accounted for all but 58 of his team’s 359 yards of offense on the night. His longest carry was 25 yards and his touchdowns runs, one in the first quarter and one in the last quarter, were only 5 and 3 yards. But in between, he was the workhorse for the Crusaders, who were missing a few key players and lost another to injury during the game.
“I didn’t even know,” Lambert said. “A school record. I didn’t even know. That’s crazy. Coach called the plays, you got to execute it. He’s trusting you with the ball in your hands, (and) you’ve got to know what you’ve got to do with it. Happy Thanksgiving. That turkey and that ham was pretty good. I had to work it off tonight.”
Brother Martin’s defense simply shut down the Falcons in the first half, holding them to 40 yards of offense and a total of 221 yards in the game. The Falcons were down 19-0 in the third quarter before showing any kind of life.
Quarterback Mason Welch was 10-of-22 for 197 yards, but 75 of those yards came on one spectacular play – a 75-yard touchdown strike to Marc Dennison with 10:48 remaining in the game. That got the Falcons within 22-15, but the Crusaders marched back downfield for Lambert’s final TD to clinch the outcome.
Northwood’s comeback push began in the middle of the third period, down 19-0. Welch drove the Falcons from his own 48-yard line to the end zone by hitting receiver Elijah Crawford for a 20-yard gain, then Dennison for a 32-yard strike to get the Falcons to the Crusaders’ 3. Quintavion White ran the rest for the score with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter.
But the rest of the game, other than the 75-yard TD strike, was all Brother Martin, just as it had started.
After forcing a Falcons punt on Northwood’s first possession, the Crusaders needed just five plays to go 67 yards for their first score, with Lambert touching the ball on every down. He ran left, right and up the middle to the Northwood 11 before catching a 7-yard pass from Seth Dazet to the 5, then ran it in from there.
Northwood couldn’t answer and its defense stiffened to hold off Brother Martin’s second possession, but Jacob Zimmer’s punt was downed at the Northwood 4. On the Falcons’ first play from scrimmage, Brenden LeBlanc blasted through the line to catch Chase Stewart in the end zone and give Brother Martin a 9-0 lead.
Brother Martin forced another Falcons punt and started its next scoring drive at the Northwood 48 with Jordan West carrying the load. After Lambert ran for 8, West broke free for a 32-yard scamper, then scored from the 8. But in the post-touchdown celebration, West suffered an arm injury that ended his night. So it was left to Lambert, with an occasional scamper by quarterbacks Dazet and Clayton Lonardo. Dazet also completed seven passes for 55 yards.
After the second Brother Martin field goal of the night made it 22-7 early in the final period, Welch stunned the Crusaders with his 75-yard bomb to Dennison with 10:48 remaining. But the visitors couldn’t mount another threat.
The Crusaders replied with one more scoring drive, going 60 yards on seven plays, capped by Lambert’s 3-yard score with 7:02 remaining in the game. Northwood turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, and on its final possession, Welch was intercepted by Blake Ranlett.
Brown said his team knew it was better than it showed in the first half.
“When you play a big team like Brother Martin with a storied program, you kind of get punched in the mouth and it took a little while to shake back and knock the fuzz off,” Brown said. “But the boys weren’t ever scared, and at halftime it was upbeat. They were excited for another half to come back out there and show ’em Northwood football.”
Contact Lori at email@example.com
Brother Martin 28, Northwood 14
Score by quarters
Brother Martin | 9 | 7 | 3 | 9 | – 28
Northwood | 0 | 0 | 7 | 7 | – 14
BM – Torey Lambert 5 run (Leyton Liuzza kick)
BM – Safety
BM – Jordan West 8 run (Liuzza kick)
BM – Liuzza 21 FG
N – Quintavion White 3 run (Jaxson Bentzler kick)
BM – Liuzza 25 FG
N – Marc Dennison 75 pass from Mason Welch (Bentzler kick)
BM – Lambert 3 run (kick blocked)
Northwood (15-24) – White 5-12 1 TD, Steward 3-2, Moss 1-4, Welch 6-6.
Brother Martin (61-348) – Lambert 47-301 2 TDs, West 4-44 1 TD, Lonardo 6-9, Dazet 2-minus-5.
Northwood – Welch 10-22-1-197.
Brother Martin (7-10-0-55) – Lonardo 0-1-0, Dazet 7-9-0-55.
Northwood – Dennison 5-110-1, Moss 2-22, White 2-14, Crawford 1-20, Hearron 1-3.