Friday Night Hero: South Rowan's Nathan Lambert
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012
By Mike London
LANDIS – Nathan Lambert’s high school football career ended with a win, a school record – and surgery.
South Rowan’s 40-34 victory against North Iredell on Friday required two overtimes. Hollywood penned the script, that’s for sure.
The senior leader – that’s Lambert – goes down, fighting for a first down but breaks an ankle on his final play.
The understudy – that’s Aaron “A-Rod” Kennerly – puts on his helmet, takes Lambert’s place, finishes off the tying drive, then wins the game with TD passes to Josh Medlin and Tvadis Wesley in overtime.
No, seriously, it happened.
“The play I got hurt on was a pass play, but I ended up scrambling out of the pocket,” Lambert said. “I was going out of bounds, but the tackler came in low and …oh, well, it was just a tough way to end the night.”
It got tougher when X-rays Saturday morning revealed his ankle was fractured and his season was history.
“It’s real hard when you realize it’s your last game,” Lambert said. “But I guess it’s the right way to go out. We played a good all-round game and we won.”
Lambert did more than his share as South fought for its second win of the season.
“Nathan’s last play, that shouldn’t get overlooked,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “We’re facing third-and-long, but he’s able to run for that first down. That allowed A-Rod to come in there with a fresh four downs and took a lot of pressure off him.”
Lambert has put up bigger stats, but his final game may have been his best. He’s South’s leading rusher and he carried 11 times for 77 yards against North Iredell. He also was 9-for-19 passing for 150 yards.
“A lot of coaches came up to me and said it was Nathan’s best game in two years,” Rollins said. “He showed a lot of leadership and a lot of poise. When you’ve got a quarterback who is reading the defense and seeing things and checking out of plays, that’s when you know he’s on. Nathan was on.”
Lambert has been closing in on school records set by Blake Houston, and he surpassed Houston’s passing yardage record Friday. Houston threw for 2.973 yards. Lambert finished at 3,014 and is the 17th player in county history to top 3,000.
Lambert’s injury means Houston will keep South’s total offense record for a while. Houston’s mark is 4,188 yards. Lambert finishes at 3,660.
It’s fitting that Lambert moved into 18th place in county history, one spot above Bobby Myers (North). Myers is South’s quarterbacks coach.
It’s also fitting Houston keeps the total offense record. Lambert was a freshman when Houston was a senior and he looked up to Houston then the way Kennerly looks up to Lambert now.
Lambert will undergo surgery Friday. It was hoped at first that time and an immobilizing cast would be enough to heal the crack in his ankle, but X-rays showed surgery is necessary to get everything properly realigned. Lambert, who started in basketball as a junior for the Raiders, is expected to return to hoops some time in December. After that, he’s planning a spring comeback in baseball.
And football is far from over. He’ll play either quarterback, tight end or wideout in college.
“He has unbelievable hands,” Rollins said. “He’ll have opportunities.”.
Lambert will now be Coach Lambert, helping Myers bring the talented Kennerly along more quickly than anyone had planned.
South feels awful for Lambert, but it feels good about Kennerly and moves on to Friday’s game with Carson with every expectation of playing well.
“I’ll be out there with him helping any way I can and A-Rod will do fine,” Lambert said. “He’s done a great job every time he’s come in.”