LONGVIEW - Lobo Stadium proved bewitching to John Tyler Friday night as two missed opportunities at a winning field goal in the closing minutes and the rebirth of L'Vendric Fite carried the Longview Lobos past the Lions, 17-16.
The pre-Halloween trump by the Lobos casts them into the driver's seat for a second consecutive District 15-5A title. Longview (7-2, 3-1), needs only a win over Marshall next week at home.
It was a game marks by trickery on behalf of the Lobos, a little bit of luck down the stretch and a defense that continually rose to the occasion after four fumbles.
"We made some mistakes at the end of the game that could have cost us, but our defense rose to the challenge," said Longview coach Robert Bero. "I can't be more proud of the way our defense has played the last two weeks."
"Offensively, I thought we did what we had to do to win against an outstanding defensive football team."
The Lions (6-2-1, 2-1-1) came in as the top-rated defense in the district. They had given up an average of 11 points per game this season and had not allowed an opposing running back to go over 100 yards.
But Fite, who was coming off a two-game suspension, ran for 115 yards on 17 carries. Replacing an injured Amond Hutchings, who suffered a hip pointer a week ago against Tyler Lee, Fite scored the go-ahead touchdown and completed a 42-yard halfback touchdown pass to Brent Goerner.
"It did feel kind of funny coming back. I just had faith in God that he would lead me through this game," Fite said. "I prayed our defense would hold them and I'd go out there and do the best I could. I guess God made that happen, and it was evidently for a reason."
The difference in the game was the result of Stephen Porter's block on a David Hernandez extra ;point attempt with 6:23 left in the third quarter. But Hernandez had two other opportunities, from 26 and 29 yards, the second following the Lobos' fourth fumble of the game after picking ups first down with 52 seconds to play.
Both field goal kicks, however, were wide to the left.
The Lions had driven 35 yards in five plays after a fumbled punt return by Longview to take a 16-10 lead. Quarterback Morris Anderson connected with Chris Carter for a one-yard touchdown pass.
The Lobos responded with a nine-play, 81-yard drive as Fite slipped a tackle on a second down call from the John Tyler eight. Darren Danielson's point-after gave Longview the one-point lead.
Fumbles by both the Lobos and Lions swung the momentum for each as the two teams were locked up in a 10-10 tie at halftime.
The Lions opened the scoring as Sedric White scored from the one-yard line with 41 seconds left in the first quarter. White carried on six of the 10-play, 61-yard drive, including a run of 13 yards where he broke tackle in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage for a first down at the Lobo three.
Longview got its first scoring opportunity after Chris Carter fumbled Levin Fuller's 45-yard punt and Tyson Dudley recovered at the 13. However, the John Tyler defense held and Danielson booted a 26-yard field goal with 8:18 to play in the second quarter.
One series later, Fite and Goemer pulled off their halfback pass for 42 yards. One play earlier, Fite scampered for 31 yards from his own 27 as the Lobos crossed midfield for the first time.
The Lions knotted the game on Hernandez's 26-yard field goal, following a Fite fumble with no time left on the clock. The Lobos did stop John Tyler three times inside the five-yard line, with free safety Daydrion Taylor tackling White for a 5-yard loss on third-and-goal from the four.