DESOTO - A great first half of football, and key plays on special teams in the second half, earned Longview's football team their best win of the 2010 season on Friday, as well as another championship banner.
The Lobos built a 38-15 lead and held off a furious fourth-quarter rally to upset DeSoto 38-35 at Eagle Stadium. The Lobos came in as underdogs, but rose up to knock off the No. 7-ranked team in the Associated Press' Class 5A state poll.
The clinching score was with 2:47 remaining in the third quarter, when J'Haston Faggans had a three-yard touchdown run. Faggans finished with 108 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Faggans' third-quarter score gave Longview its 38-15 edge.
DeSoto's quick-strike offense, which slumbered in the first half, almost brought the Eagles back. DeSoto outscored Longview 20-0 in the fourth quarter, closing within 38-35 with 2:14 remaining on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Polite to Sam Ajala.
On the ensuing kickoff however, a DeSoto onside kick was smothered by Longview safety Joe Brown, then a four-yard run by quarterback LaDarrin Robertson three plays later gave the Lobos their game-clinching first down. Robertson finished with 171 total yards and two touchdowns.
"It was an overall great team effort. There were a lot of big plays in offense, defense and special teams," Longview head coach John King said. "Our defense had a great first half."
Longview (6-4, 4-1) enters the playoffs with a share of the District 11-5A title, the seventh consecutive district crown for the Lobos. Longview will face Belton in a Class 5A Division II bi-district playoff at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas. DeSoto (8-2, 4-1), also a co-champion, will play Bryan in a Division I bi-district playoff at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday in Corsicana.
Longview's first special-teams play was a break, as Ridge Jones fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and Nakia Brown recovered at the DeSoto one-yard line, setting up a touchdown sneak by Robertson two plays later.
After DeSoto pulled within 31-15 on a three-yard touchdown run by Polite with 3:00 left in the third quarter, the Eagles tried an onside kick, but Khody Hubbard grabbed the ball and had a 45-yard kickoff return before tripping at the DeSoto three-yard line, setting up Faggans' score.
Polite was the catalyst of DeSoto's late rally. Polite passed for 375 total yards, 342 in the second half, and accounted for four touchdowns. DeSoto had three 100-yard receivers: Demarcus Thompson (140 yards), David Porter (105) and Ajala (100).
Earlier this week, King said he hoped to play keep away in order to limit the time DeSoto's offense had the ball. Longview's opening drive was an ideal start for that goal as the Lobos held on to the ball for 5:04, capping a 68-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run by Faggans.
DeSoto had a chance to even the score as Ja'Halen Norris intercepted a Robertson screen pass and returned it to the Longview 27-yard line. However, the Longview defense held, with Demarkus Lathan leading a gang of Lobos to stop Polite for a one-yard gain on a fourth-and-three at the Longview 20-yard line.
Longview used the momentum of the stop for another time-consuming drive. The Lobos used 5:09 and moved 81 yards, ending with a seven-yard touchdown run by Faggans with 8:53 left in the second quarter. Faggans had 63 yards rushing on 14 first-half carries.
Backing Longview's control on offense was perhaps the best half the Lobo defense has played all season. Longview held DeSoto to 29 total yards in the first offense. DeSoto's running game was non-existent in the first half, getting knocked back for minus-four yards. DeSoto finished the game with 31 yards rushing.
Longview would take a 17-0 lead to halftime on a 33-yard field goal by Kyle Jenkins with 5:12 left in the first half. The kick was set up by Longview defensive back Brian Tomlinson forcing Ajala to fumble, with Nakia Brown recovering for the Lobos. Longview's defense also had an interception by Ja'Quale Darden, his second pick in as many weeks.
Longview had a 13-1 edge in first downs and a 208-29 edge in total yards in the first half. Robertson accounted for 118 first-half yards.
Thompson wore number 24, instead of number six, in tribute to teammate Corey Borner. Borner wore number 24 before he suffered a neck injury during spring football practice on May 6, 2009 which paralyzed him from the neck down.
Brown led Longview with nine tackles. Anthony Wiley added six tackles while Thomas Jones had two sacks. Alex Lyons led DeSoto with 13 tackles.