WACO - In a game marked by outstanding defensive plays, it seemed ironic that a missed tackle proved to be the difference as Cypress-Fairbanks captured a hard-fought 14-7 victory over Longview at Baylor Stadium Saturday afternoon.
With the score tied 7-7, Cy-Fair's James Taylor had just intercepted a pass by Rolando Reese and returned it to the Longview 45-yard line.
Three plays later, Bobcats quarterback Jeff Miller rolled right with Longview's Jimmy Smith in hot pursuit. It appeared Smith would make the tackle in the backfield but Miller eluded the junior linebacker's grasp and weaved 30 yards into the end zone with 5:17 showing in the third period.
"I thought Jimmy was gonna get him," said a dejected Longview head coach Doug Cox after the game. "I think he may have slipped."
Gerald Dasback added the PAT for a 14-7 lead and the Bobcats used a swarming pass rush to hold any fourth-quarter threats to remain undefeated at 11-01. The District 15-AAAAA champions advance to meet the winner of Saturday night's area contest between North Mesquite and Lewisville.
Longview, champion of District 13-AAAAA, ends it season at 9-3.
Longview, which defeated Killeen Ellison, 17-0, last week in bi-district, showed it would be a defensive struggle early, forcing the Bobcats into a pair of punting situations.
The first time Cy-Fair punted, the second time the 'Cats wished they had.
On fourth-and-one at the Lobos' 46, up back Joe Brown took the short snap and rushed for first down yardage. But when Brown was hit by senior linebacker Tommie Taylor, the ball popped loose and Taylor recovered at the 41.
After a 4-yard gain and an illegal procedure penalty, Longview's coaches in the press box noticed Cy-Fair was cheating towards the hash marks.
"They guys in the press box said 'why don't we try a sneak'," Cox said. "It worked real good."
That's an understatement.
Junior quarterback Kirt Griffin charged into Cy Fair's shocked secondary, fought off Taylor's diving attempted tackle and sprinted 60 yards for the touchdown with 3:54 left in the opening period.
Jason Baird's extra point made it 7-0.
Griffin's effort was the longest running play of the season.
The play worked again for 10 yards in the second period, but then it proved costly. Griffin separated his right shoulder and was lost for the game.
Cy-Fair answered Griffin's score by marching to the Lobos 4-yard line. Most of the yardage came on a 35-yard run by Darryl Montgomery, who was dragged down at the 10 by Carwyn Richardson.
But Longview's defense, which claimed five turnovers, survived the threat when Reggie Santee fumbled and Glenn Moore caught the bobble in midair at the 3.
If Moore could've avoided the first tackler, he would've had clear sailing down the right sideline. As it was, Longview retained its 7-0 advantage.
But only momentarily.
The Lobos were forced to punt from their own end zone and Taylor returned Baird's kick 21 yards to the 20.
Five players later, Santee took a pitch right and scored from two yards out. Dasback's kick tied it 7:44 before intermission.
Cy-Fair threatened once more before the half when the Bobcats advanced to the Longview 31. On second-and-five, however, Lonzell Williams caught Miller from behind for a yard loss. Then on third down Jimmy Bailey diagnosed a screen pass to Santee and, which help from Williams and Richardson, dropped the senior tailback for a 3-yard loss.
The Lobos had a chance to score in the final seconds of the half when Miller, facing a big rush, threw across the field and junior safety David Henderson picked it off at the 46.
Henderson was off balance when he nabbed the interception, his seventh, and could manage only a 3-yard return. Had he been able to keep his feet there was nothing but artificial turf ahead.
Longview had managed just one first down, on Griffin's touchdown run, and 79 total yards in the first half. But in the third quarter it was a series of missed opportunities that sealed the Lobos fate.
Moore made a spectacular diving interception at the Cy-Fair 26-yard line early in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Chris Cotton, a little rusty and pressured severely, threw three straight incomplete passes. On fourth down he was sacked by Paul Norton for a 14-yard loss.
Cotton was sacked four times for 34 yards in losses. In all, Lobo quarterbacks were sacked six times for 46 yards.
Longview regained possession three plays later when Taylor, who was outstanding, made a leaping interception at the 37. Trying to take quick advantage of the break, Cox called for an end around pass that worked for a touchdown against Ellison.
The Bobcats reached the Longview 20, but appeared to hit a roadblock when an 11-yard completion was nullified by a holding penalty. The 10-yard walk-off gave Cy-Fair first-and-20 at the Lobo 30.
Then after an incompletion, Miller escaped Smith's grasp and scored the eventual game-winner.
Longview, however, did have a final chance midway through the fourth quarter when Miller shanked a 13-yard punt and the Lobos took over at the Cy-Fair 47.
They moved to the Bobcat 29, where they faced fourth-and-two Henderson, in at quarterback, rolled right and at first appeared to have a corner. But Pat Burke and Brown closed quickly and stopped him for no gain.
Longview's last gasp ended when Cotton, pressured unmercifully, misfired on four straight passed and was sacked by Greg Harrie.