LUBBOCK - It was fate that decided Longview's eventual fate here Saturday night.
A miraculous 62-yard state record field goal for Odessa Permian and a never-thought-of missed extra point for the top-ranked Lobos, in quest of their first state championship since 1937, was the difference as the Panthers escaped with a narrow 10-9 Class 4-A semi-final victory.
Diminutive 150-pound Russell Wheatley took full advantage of a brisk wind at his back and booted the spectacular three-pointer on Permian's first possession of the evening.
The Panthers did little else, until the closing minutes of the final period when Wheatley once again split the uprights and provided the margin of victory with a conversion kick as 2:55 showed on hte clock.
Wheatley's field goal broke the standing record set a year ago when Tony Franklin of Fort Worth Paschal booted a 58-yarder.
But the proud Lobos overcame the early 3-0 lead and a tenacious Permian defense to forge into a 9-3 lead with 7:55 remaining in the game. But Mark Bolton, who has been true with his point afters all season, failed to the "fate" syndrome when he was wide right on his kick that would have given the Lobos a 10-3 lead and a 2-1 edge in penetrations, even after Permian's late touchdown.
Bolton earlier knotted the game with a 28-yard field goal, his and Longview's first of the season.
It was a hard-charging line that caused Jeff Stone to hurry a punt and allowed the Panthers excellent field position at the Lobo 36 with 4:12 left in the game and Longview holding its slim 9-3 hopes.
Quarterback Kris Howard, however, connected with his favorite receiver, Ricky Ross, inside the five-yard line on the ensuing play. Once a sure-handed tack by safety Llewellyn Fambles saved the touchdown - momentarily.
It took the Panthers three plunges from the one-yard line to penetrate the Lobos' "Mean Green" defense, Johnny Homer scoring over right tackle for the tying points. Wheatley tacked the game-winner.
Permian will now meet Port Neches-Groves, who upended previously undefeated San Antonio Lee, 28-0, in the other semi-final contest, for the state championship next week. This was the Panther's third semi-final game here in Jones Stadium, home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, and kept their unblemished mark intact.
Call it fate or call it whatever, an unlikely penalty cost the Lobos a second quarter score that, needless to say, proved costly.
A 15-yard illegal receiver call nullified a "sure" touchdown after tight end Henry Williams gathered in a pass from wingback Johnny Fuller that apparently had Longview in control at the Permian one. Instead, the ball was moved back to the Odessa 48, creating a first-and-25 situation the Panthers capitalized on to keep the Lobos out of the end zone.
Williams had been on the receiving end of a Tim Martin aerial moments before the costly penalty tout the ball at the Panthers 33, Longview's deepest penetration in the first two quarters.
Neither team could mount any sustained attack against their opposing defenders, the spectacular 62-yard field goal being the lone points of the first 24 minutes.
Longview did not make its initial first down of the game until 1:01 was remaining on the first quarter clock, that on a fourth-and-inches play by stellar tailback Leo McCoy, who set the Longview single-season rushing record on his seventh carry of the game to surpass former All-American Mike Mock's 1973 total of 1,157.
McCoy finished the game with 30 yards on 14 carries to lift his season mark to 1,168.
Of the 43 overland yards for Longview in the first half, McCoy had 26 but was shutdown in the last half. Permian, however, was held to just nine yards on the ground the first half, finishing with 69.
It was the "big play" of Johnny Fuller that nearly put the Lobos into the victory column, just as he did last week against Dallas Carter in a quarter-final encounter.
Fuller picked off Curtis Pittman's pass and streak 57 yards down the sideline, before Pitman caught him at the Permian seven.
McCoy burst the Panther front wall three consecutive times and Fambles took the ball in from one-yard away for the 9-3 lad.
The contest was marked by fierce defensive play by the two teams that were ranked 1-2 in scoring defense among teams across the state. Longview had surrendered just 61 points all season, Permian 72.
But the Lobos managed only five first downs and 125 total yards against their opponents while Permian dented Longview's for 176 total yards, 107 of it through the airways.
Longview went to the air seven times, one more than it had thrown in the other three playoff games, and completed three for 34 yards but suffered one costly interception at the Lobo 34 with 1:47 left in the game.
The loss halted Longview's 13-game victory skein and gives Permian a 12-1-1 ledger.