ROCKWALL - Just 24 hours after receiving his first collegiate offer, Travin Howard wasted little time proving why colleges were after his services.
He also took little to no time setting the stage for a dominant regular season finale for the Lobos.
Howard – who picked up an offer from UT San Antonio on Thursday — returned the first punt of the contest 46 yards to paydirt and the Lobos followed suit, building a 27-0 halftime lead en route to a 41-7 win over Rockwall to wrap up an undefeated run through District 12-5A and capping a 9-1 regular season.
“He’s going to get a lot more offers and lot less punts,” Longview head coach John King said of Howard. “Just a great effort on his part – made a couple of guys miss, had tremendous blocking and he took it to the house – he’s just very talented.”
After sealing up the 12-5A crown this past week, King was looking for his team to continue its momentum heading to next week’s postseason opener against Rowlett at 4 p.m. Saturday at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas.
“Getting a punt return for the first seven points just set the tempo for the game,” King said. “We gave up a little drive and extended some with penalties but we held them and finally got the ball back and started playing Lobo football and were able to dominate the first half.”
Dezmond Chumley finished 7-for-8 for 77 yards, including a two-yard scoring toss to Jordan Whitaker and a 19-yard pass to Stephon Anthony – who led the Lobos recievers with 67 yards on two hauls.
“We had 20 or so offensive snaps in the first half so we didn’t have the opportunity to throw the ball a whole lot but Dezmond was able to make the most of each, he threw the ball well tonight,” King said. “Stephon made a nice play on his first catch – he’s slippery and hard to tackle.”
After missing two games with an ankle injury, junior running back JaMycal Hasty picked up seven yards on his first touch in nearly three weeks and finished with 119 on the ground and hauled in two passes for 25 yards.
“It was nice to see JaMycal out there tonight,” King said. “He had some good runs, caught the ball well out of the backfield and he had a good night getting back into it.”
Defensively, Troy Daniels and Jhavaurian Moore had interceptions for the Lobos (9-1, 6-0) and Roderick Alexander scooped a fumble for the Mean Green defense, who held Rockwall (5-5, 3-3) to 135 total yards.
Howard bobbled the Yellowjackets’ first punt of the game after a quick three-and-out, recovered quickly and – after a huge block from Chris Coby — navigated across the field for a 46-yard touchdown his second punt return for a score this season and second at Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium.
Rockwall used 11 plays to march to the Lobo 11-yard line before Daniels got a read of a pass attempt and hauled down an interception, putting the Longview offense on the field for the first time with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
Hasty took his first handoff in nearly three weeks seven yards and had runs of 27 and 25, setting up Powell’s one-yard jaunt to give Longview a 14-0 lead.
On Rockwall’s second snap of the their third possession, Moore grabbed a tipped ball and returned it to the Rockwall two with Chumley finding Whitaker for the score.
The Lobo defense forced a turnover on downs at midfield and after an 18-yard completion to Hasty out of the backfield and a nine-yard grab from L’darrius Peterson, Chumley found Anthony in the flat and the senior made a nice step before taking it 19 yards to the end zone for a 27-0 Lobo lead at the break.
Longview chewed up over five minutes on the clock to open the second half, marching 75 yards on nine plays – 50 of which came from Hasty – with Powell extending the Lobos lead to 34-0 on his second score from two yards away.
Roderick Alexander scooped up a Rockwall fumble before Longview coughed it right back up with Will Smith dashing to the Lobo three-yard line. Quarterback Jacob Ballard put the Yellowjackets on the board on a two-yard jaunt with 11:53 to play.
Sophomore Cameron Castleberry completed his lone pass attempt – a 48-yard pass to Anthony – and added a 17-yard run while fellow sophomore Tylan Miller rushed for 54 yards on eight carries – including a nine-yard score to give Longview the 41-7 final.
But now, the schedule is wiped clean as the Lobos enter the playoffs.
“It didn’t take too long to enjoy this one and get back into playoff mode,” King said. “Our minds spinning about who we have next and preparation for that and so forth.
“We’ve got some work to do but we’re going to enjoy it tonight and then it’s time to get back to work.”