LONGVIEW - Longview's passing game, heretofore an otherwise seldom used plan of attack, became the "center" of attention at Lobo Stadium Friday night. Namely, Donnie Centers.
A 5'9, 155-pound junior it was Centers who stepped into the spotlight. His performances coupled with the "Mean Green" defense was all the Lobos needed to pave the way to a 21-0 victory over Fort Worth Paschal.
Longview, which had just 566 yards passing in 10 regular season games last year, went to the airways for 138 - all in the first half - with Centers catching three for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns, a spectacular 65-yarder and a 24-yarder. Kenny Frazier and John Shinneman each connected with the lanky Centers for a score, while the defense took over on most other occasions in holding the Panthers to just 163 total yards, 82 on the ground and 81 in the air.
The start was not a good one for the Lobos, who first drive ended via fumble, but Centers and Shinneman capped the next drive with a 24-yard hookup and Paschal played catchup for the next 37 minutes and 24 seconds. Centers reeled in Shinneman's toss and broke a pair of tackles in skirting his way to the end zone with 1:24 remaining in the first period. The extra point was no good but it mattered not.
Centers' first career catch was the 11th play in an 80-yard march which consumed 5:03 of the clock. The key play came on a fourth-and-nine situation when Shinneman hit fullback Gahlen Johnson with a nifty 12-yarder to the right flat to place the ball at the Panthers' 26. The touchdown came three plays later.
Paschal moved into Longview territory mid-way through the second quarter but Dewayne Wooldridge and Sammy Alex trapped Paschal quarterback Trey McNeil, a sophomore, for a one-yard loss on a fourth-and-six play at the 29. Three plays later Centers came up with the play of the game.
He leaped high over Andre Williams' head to reel in Frazier's toss and went in untouched to put the 65-yard pass-and-run play into the stat books with 2:55 left in the half. Johnson swept the right end to add a two-point conversion and the Lobos took a 14-0 lead into the lockerrooms at the intermission.
Only an interception of a Johnson halfback pass at the 10-yard line with 15 seconds left in the half saved probably another Longview score.
The Lobos' second possession of the second half netted the game's final score when Frazier snuck in from a yard out with six seconds left in the third stanza. Jessie Floyd tacked on the extra point for the 21-0 lead.
The drive was set up when Marques Jackson recovered a Tony Burton fumble at the Paschal 21, following a Duke Brooks hit. Brooks had dropped McNeil for a six-yard loss just a play earlier. It took six plays to move in for the touchdown.