LONGVIEW - Fort Worth Eastern Hills fumbled on its first play and had a pass intercepted on its last play. In between, Longview's defense thoroughly manhandled the Highlanders and the offense was productive enough to give the Lobos a 17-0 victory Friday night in Lobo Stadium.
The triumph was Longview's fifth in the six-year series and was the Lobos' 20th season-opening win in 22 years.
Last season, the Lobos offense electrified the home crowd in a 38-14 victory. This time the electricity was limited tot he constant flashes of lightning.
However, the defense was powerful enough to short-circuit any Eastern Hills hope for scoring, much less winning.
Led by middle linebacker Tommie Taylor defensive end Donnie Childs and a thieving secondary with stole four Frank Braziel passes, the Lobos held the Highlanders to a mere five first downs, just 49 yards rushing and only 93 yards total offense.
Longview recovered two fumbles and allowed Eastern Hills in its territory only once. The Highlanders reached Longview's 47-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but Taylor read perfectly an attempt screen pass to Eric Darden and made a brilliant one-handed interception at the 47.
So much for the Highlander offense.
Longview's offense wasn't much more effective, but it didn't have to be. In the second half the defense kept Eastern Hills pinned back in its own territory, giving the offense outstanding field position. The Lobos started drives at the 32, 14, 24, 45 and midfield.
"The defense played real well," praised Longview coach Doug Cox. "I can't wait to see the film. We just made so many mistakes offensively. But we're young and we'll get better. We're inexperienced, but they're a close-knit group and you can correct those mistakes."
Longview had its scoring opportunities early, having its opening drive stopped on fourth-and-one at the Highlander 23 and missing a 35-yard field goal attempt.
But senior Chris Cotton, who was the first of four Lobo quarterbacks, got Longview on the scoreboard with 8:26 showing in the second quarter when he lofted a 13-yard toss to junior split end Brian Williams.
Williams outwrestled three defenders for the ball and back-peddled into the end zone to cap a 10-play, 60-yard drive.
"It was a split end power pass," Williams said of his first touchdown. "Chris just threw a good pass and I came up with it. It felt great."
Eastern Hills, though, blocked Jason Baird's extra point attempt to keep it 6-0.
The Highlanders' following drives ended with a David Henderson interception, his first of two, and a punt after Lonzell Williams sacked Braziel for a four-yard loss.
Eastern Hills had its best scoring opportunity on the last play of the half when Baird, back to punt, and was swarmed on at the 15. However, a fake field goal netted an incomplete pass and the Lobos led 6-0 at intermission.
Longview broke the game open in the second half after Glenn Moore returned a punt 32-yards to the Highlander 14 late in the third period.
Three plays later Clyde Boyd hurled into the end zone from the 3-yard line for the score with 1:19 left in the quarter. Junior Kirt Griffin then hit Williams for the two-point conversion.
On its next possession Eastern Hills marched from its 6-yard line to the Longview 47 before Taylor pulled off his heist.
Griffin had runs of 10 and nine yards to help the Lobos reach the 20 before the drive stalled. Baird then ended the scoring with a 37-yard field goal with 4:25 remaining.
Carwyn Richardson returned an interception 23 yards to the Eastern Hills 3-yard line on the game's last play.