SHREVEPORT - Longview quarterback LaDarrin Robertson had a simple solution on how to run the ball without his best running back in the backfield on Saturday. He would handle the job himself.
The solution was sensational, with Robertson rushing for 218 yards and two touchdowns as Longview pulled away for a 28-14 win over Mesquite Horn in the Class 5A Division II Region II final at Independence Stadium. Robertson rushed for 148 yards in the second half, including a 16-yard touchdown run with 41.1 seconds remaining for the game’s final score.
Robertson sparked a Lobo ground game which produced 345 yards. The Lobos overcame the absence of leading rusher J’Haston Faggans, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Longview’s 24-0 win over Tomball in a Region II semifinal last week.
“The offensive line and me talked this week,” Robertson said. “We said we’re going to do this for J’Haston and pull out this win.”
Longview (10-4) advances to a state semifinal against Denton Guyer (12-2) this Saturday at SMU’s Ford Stadium in University Park. The time is to be announced. Guyer defeated Southlake Carroll 24-14 in the Region I final on Saturday. It is the third consecutive year Longview will play Guyer in a state semifinal, with the Lobos winning the two previous meetings at the Class 4A Division I level.
“Guyer is a good team, but we’re ready,” Longview safety Joe Brown said.
Horn ends its best season in school history at 9-5. Horn was denied revenge for a 13-8 loss to the Lobos in a District 11-5A game on Oct. 15 in Longview.
Longview also overcame what could have been perceived as an underdog status because of the absence of Faggans while Horn had a key player – quarterback Collin Strahan – who didn’t play in their October meeting because of an injury.
“We’re taking everything to heart after Faggans was hurt and Diop Johnson’s father passing away,” Longview offensive tackle Thomas Roacho said. “They doubted us, we proved them wrong … and we’ll keep proving them wrong.”
Strahan had 236 yards passing and two touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions. The second pick was by sophomore linebacker DeMarkus Lathan with 3:21 remaining. Lathan returned the interception 22 yards to the Horn eight-yard line and two plays later fullback Deontre Wilson scored on an eight-yard touchdown run to put Longview up 21-14 with 2:24 remaining.
“The way he set his shoulders, I knew where he (Strahan) was going to throw it,” Lathan said.
Horn’s next drive ended with Brian Tomlinson making an interception at the Longview three-yard line. Longview held Horn to 86 yards passing after allowing 150 and both touchdowns in the first half.
“We made mistakes in the first half, but we made corrections,” Brian Tomlinson said. “We didn’t change our formations. It was nothing fancy.”
After Brian Tomlinson’s interception, Longview moved 94 yards, including five Robertson carries for 89 yards, but the drive ended when a Kyle Jenkins 20-yard field goal attempt went wide right. However, the Lobos forced a three-and-out possession from Horn and moved 56 yards on its final drive to set up Robertson’s final touchdown.
Strahan helped Horn draw first blood on its second possession, connecting with Jakeem Grant on a 75-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 left in the first quarter. Grant had five receptions for 97 yards in the first half. Horn had two receivers with over 100 yards receiving, JaCorey Shepherd (six receptions for 106 yards) and Grant (six for 101).
On Longview’s ensuing drive, Wilson was stopped three inches short of a first down at the Horn 39-yard line on a fourth-and-one play. Horn took advantage, building its lead to 14-0 on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Strahan to Shepherd with 11:11 left in the second quarter. Strahan was 9-for-12 for 150 yards passing in the first half.
Longview rallied with what could have been a season-saving play. On a fourth-and-eight play, receiver Blaine Tomlinson – a backup quarterback — threw a 28-yard touchdown pass off a reverse to D.T. Jackson with 7:00 left in the second quarter.
Two plays later, Brian Tomlinson broke up a Strahan pass to Shepherd and Jordan Burton made an interception of the carom. This set up a 58-yard drive, capped by a 30-yard touchdown run by Robertson with 3:46 left in the second quarter, helping tie the game at 14-14 for halftime. Robertson, who had 97 total yards in the first half, used a fake pitch to free himself for the touchdown run.
Dakota Anthony, who moved from fullback to replace Faggans at tailback, rushed for 81 yards and 21 carries.
Horn had five turnovers to Longview. Jalen Porter and Thomas Jones had a fumble recoveries for the Lobos.