LUFKIN - It was another near miss for Longview's football team on Friday. This time, the difference was a mere four yards.
Longview quarterback LaDarrin Robertson was stopped at the Lufkin four-yard line by Jamarcus Anders on a fourth-and-goal play with 28 seconds remaining, denying the Lobos a chance to tie the game in a 28-21 Lufkin victory at Abe Martin Stadium. It was the second straight week a Longview game against a state-ranked opponent was decided in the final minute, as Allen - ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press' Class 5A state poll - scored the winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in a 24-20 decision last week.
Against Lufkin, ranked No. 10 in the AP poll, the Lobos may have out-played the Panthers, with a 429-320 edge in total yards and a 20-12 edge in first downs. However, the edge may have been a stretch of about seven minutes between late in the second quarter and early the third quarter, in which Lufkin scored 21 points to take a 21-13 lead.
"We gave them touchdowns on three straight possessions, and that gave them momentum," Longview coach John King said. "I did see some good things and improvement, but we're not satisfied. The players are not, the coaches are not and the fans are not satisfied.
"We'll be a good football team if we stay healthy and stay together."
Longview (1-3) has lost its last three games, the first time that has happened to the Lobos since 2000, although all three losses were to state-ranked teams. Longview has lost eight consecutive games to Lufkin at Abe Martin Stadium, failing to win since 1997. Lufkin improves to 4-0.
Robertson had a gutsy game in defeat. Shaking off a right-leg injury in the third quarter, Robertson had 266 total yards, passing for a season-high 207 yards, and accounted for all three Longview touchdowns.
Lufkin scored its winning touchdown with 9:48 remaining, as quarterback Deauntre Smiley threw a 43-yard scoring strike to JaVante Mack. Smiley accounted for 288 total yards and three touchdowns. The Lobos drove 76 yards on its final drive before they were stopped. King said an offsides call when Longview had a third-and-goal at the Lufkin four-yard line was a key penalty.
Lufkin expanded its lead to 21-13 with 8:05 left on a two-yard touchdown run by Voshon Richardson. On the ensuing drive, in which Robertson was injured and returned to the game, the Lobos moved 91 yards on 15 plays, ending with a five-yard touchdown pass from Robertson to D'Marjia Devine with 28 seconds left in the third quarter. Robertson followed with a two-point conversion run, in which he was hit hard in mid-flight, to tie the game at 21-21.
Longview controlled the first 21 minutes of the first half, but what Lufkin did in the last three minutes was enough to grab a 14-13 halftime lead.
The Lobos struck first with an 86-yard drive, capped by Robertson finding a breakdown in the Lufkin pass defense, and Blaine Tomlinson for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 2:36 left in the first quarter. The drive started when Lufkin failed to convert a fourth-and-one at the Longview 11-yard line, with a fumble by Smiley leading to a three-yard loss. Kyle Jenkins' extra-point attempt was wide left, keeping the score 6-0.
Longview drove 95 yards on its second touchdown drive, with a 35-yard pass from Robertson to Javorus Poole setting a two-yard touchdown run with 7:33 left in the second quarter, giving Longview a 13-0 lead. Longview caught two breaks on the drive as a Poole fumble was recovered by D.T. Jackson at the Longview 23-yard line and a Robertson fumble was recovered by offensive lineman Thomas Roacho at the Lufkin 21-yard line.
Getting the ball back with 2:53 left in the second quarter, Lufkin drove 80 yards, with a 46-yard pass from Smiley to Darrian Shepherd setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Smiley with 43 seconds remaining in the half.
On the first play from scrimmage on Longview's ensuing drive as Lufkin safety Travoskey Garrett forced Longview running back J'Haston Faggans to fumble and Jackson Randle recovered for Lufkin at the Longview 39-yard line with 31 seconds left in the half. After Smiley found Chris Bean for a 13-yard pass on a fourth-and-10 play, Smiley connected with Jabryce Taylor for a 26-yard touchdown pass with three seconds remaining to give Lufkin it's halftime edge. The late touchdown was similar to the 2009 game, when Smiley threw a 53-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the first half to give Lufkin a 28-7 lead on its way to a 28-14 victory.
Robertson was 7-for-11 for 130 yards passing in the first half, with Poole making five receptions for 81 yards. Faggans had 64 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 132 yards rushing for the game. Smiley had 131 total yards of offense in the first half while Garrett forced two fumbles for the game.
Longview plays Abilene, ranked No. 7 in the AP's Class 5A state poll next Friday at Kimbrough Stadium in Murphy, near Plano.