CALHOUN, Ga. — For a football coach who is known to stay away from such talk this early in the postseason, Calhoun's Hal Lamb's comments following Friday night's 42-10 Class AA first-round playoff win over Wesleyan were maybe a warning to those looking to take the title away from the Yellow Jackets.
Calhoun (11-0), which will host Washington-Wilkes next Friday, scored touchdowns on six of its first seven possessions and held a dangerous Wolves passing game in check.
"Our kids were ready to go from the start, and they played extremely well all night," Lamb said. "We're excited about our opportunity moving forward. I told the kids if we prepare like we did this week every week I like our chances, because our kids were really zoned in."
Senior quarterback Taylor Lamb had a near-perfect first half, going 15-of-17 for 224 yards (including six passes for 156 yards to Josh Barnes), one touchdown pass and touchdown runs of 1 and 8 yards as the Jackets roared to a 35-3 halftime lead. The visitors led 3-0 after taking the game's first possession to the Calhoun 9 before settling for a field goal.
The Jackets took the lead for good two minutes later when Lamb scored from a yard out to cap a quick 44-yard drive set up by Donnell Anthony's 35-yard kickoff return. Wesleyan (4-7) then held the ball for all but 26 seconds of the quarter, but the drive ended on a missed 37-yard field goal. The Wolves did not see Calhoun territory again until they were down 42-3.
"Defensively, we knew they had a good quarterback and receivers, but after that first drive our defense really stoned them," Coach Lamb said. "We had a good plan defensively, and we were concerned about their passing game. It was a great effort all around. I couldn't be prouder."
Following the Wesleyan miss, Calhoun needed just over a minute to push its lead to 11 when Barnes took a screen pass and raced 54 yards for a touchdown. Four minutes later, he had consecutive receptions of 25 and 16 yards to move the ball to the Wesleyan 8, where Taylor Lamb kept on a bootleg for a 21-3 lead.
Any potential comeback ended when Anthony jarred the ball loose from Wesleyan star receiver Jahmai Jones, with Jackson Brumlow recovering at the 26. Five plays later Alex Urbano bulled in from the 1.
Urbano capped the half with another 1-yard score with just nine seconds left after Lamb was 4-for-4 passing for 65 yards in the final minute.
"They got our attention with that first drive, but we were on tonight," said Taylor Lamb, who added a third-quarter 7-yard touchdown pass to Brett Moss and finished with 274 yards. "The line had a great game and my receivers were open all night. It's a nice start."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...