IRVING - A blocked punt only 1:51 into the game ultimately led to a 10-3 win for the Sherman Bearcats over the Longview Lobos here Friday night in a Class 4A Texas schoolboy bi-district contest.
Tommy Neal came blowing in to get a hand on a Hosea Taylor punt on a fourth-and-six situation at the Lobo 20 after Longview had fizzled on its first offensive series of the night.
Neal grabbed the ball in mid-air and only a tackle by Taylor at the three yard line prevented a touchdown.
But that only delayed the inevitable as Sherman quarterback Randy Wessinger plunged through right tackle on the next play to capitalize on the big turnover.
Gary Jack added the extra point and that is all it took for the Bearcats as both teams traded field goals later.
Longview came right back on the ensuing kickoff to put the Lobos' only points on the board.
After a drive that began at the Longview 21 fizzled after 12 plays at the Sherman 16, Jim Tutt guided a 33-yard field goal through the uprights, his third of the year in four attempts.
Jack added a 26-yard 3-pointer with 6:12 left in the first half for the final points of the night, although both teams were to threaten later in the game.
Longview made one more threat before halftime when the Lobos took the ball at their own 20 with just 3:45 left before intermission and rode the passing arm of Tim Martin to the Sherman 18.
Martin connected with tight end Kurt McCoy for gains of 21 and 12 yards after the Bearcats were hit by an 18-yard pass interference call that started the drive off.
With a first down at the Bearcat 18, Martin dropped back to pass once again and hit tailback Sherman Johnson for a 5-yard gain to the 13, on a play that might have cost the Lobos the game.
Fullback John Henry Jones was standing all alone at the 2-yard line with not an enemy jersey within 15 yards of him but Martin couldn't see him and after an incomplete pass on the next play, Sherman came up with a game-saving interception.
Johnson took a handoff from Martin and began circling left end but the senior runner pulled up and lofted a wobbly pass toward wingback David Morris in the end zone but Brian Buick stepped in front of the receiver and stole the pass to thwart the threat.
Longview finished the season ranked No. 2 in the state with a 10-1 record. While it was the the third year in a row for the Lobos to venture into the state playoffs, it was the first time in 14 seasons for the Bearcats to qualify for post-season action.
Sherman ran its record to 10-0-1 as this is the first season in school history for Sherman to finish the regular season undefeated.
Neither team could mount a consistent offensive attack, as Sherman had only an offensive output of 216 yards and the Lobos but 184. All but 50 of Longview's total came in the first half.
Sherman's Eddie Wright led all rushers with 101 yards on 18 carries.