TYLER - Longview utilized its tradition offensive game plan, a steady ground game, to subdue rival John Tyler and clinch a state playoff birth for the third year in a row here Friday night at Rose Stadium.
Scoring five touchdowns after falling behind, the Lobos racked up an impressive 35-13 triumph in a District 15-5A encounter and will meet Marshall next week for the loop crown. The points were the most Longview has scored this season and broke a tradition of close Longview-John Tyler games in recent seasons.
The Lobos are 7-1-1 overall and 3-0-1 in league play. John Tyler dropped to 7-2 and 2-2.
Marshall also won Friday, 17-10 over Lufkin, and will go into the regular-season finale with a 3-1 loop record.
Middle linebacker Kendric Nichols put the exclamation mark on the victory when he picked off a Morris Anderson pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown with 56 seconds left in the game. The score came just 15 seconds after an L.V. Fite six-yard touchdown which sealed the win.
Chris Butcher, the second-team tailback behind Fite, scampered 27 yards for a 21-7 lead with 41 seconds left in the third quarter, then Ladophyous scored on a 24-yard run to narrow the gap to 21-13. The point after was blocked by Wardell Glaspie.
A John Tyler fumble, recovered by Thomas Norris moments later all but sealed the Lions fate with 4:39 left in the game, because it led to Fite's touchdown.
Longview used two second-quarter possession to take a 14-7 halftime lead after John Tyler had scored the first time it had the ball in the opening stanza.
Early in the second quarter, the Lobos took over at their own 32 and it took just five plays to cover the distance - 68 yards - and Cory Hutchings caught the John Tyler team off guard on a first-and-10 quarterback sneak play when he sped 41 yards and scored with 6:18 left. Hutchings hit wingback Victory Anthony on a 12-yard gained on a third-and-seven to keep the drive alive, and Darren Danielson added the extra point kick.
Less than three minutes later, following a short 20-yard punt by the Lions, Longview set up at the John Tyler 24 and in six plays scooted in when Daydrion Taylor scored on an 11-yard run with 1:07 remaining.
It was the only offensive play for Taylor in the first half and Danielson again converted the extra point boot.
The Lions scored on their initial possession, driving 47 yards on just five plays, with Shaw speeding 29 yards for the touchdown at the 9:35 mark. Hernandez added the PAT.
When John Tyler stopped Longview the first three times it was on offense, including recovering a Chris Butcher fumble at the Lobos' 44, it looked like the Lions had taken the momentum.
On the first possession of the second quarter, however, the Lions missed on a 49-yard against-the-wind field goal.