LONGVIEW - If defense wins championships, John Tyler can definitely give a big thank-you to its defense.
The No. 8-ranked Lions held Longview to 13 second half yards and eased away from a half-time tie to nab a 19-7 win and lay claim to the District 13-5A crown here Friday night at Lobo Stadium, ending the Lobos' three-year run.
For the Lions, it was their ninth straight win this season but only their second over the Lobos in the last 13 years. It is John Tyler's first league title since 1981 and first 9-0 record since 1978.
Longview, 4-4-1 overall and 2-1-1 in league play, will close against Marshall next Friday needing a win to make the playoffs. Marshall dropped a 20-10 decision to Lufkin last night.
The Lobos converted just two first downs in the second half and turned the ball over twice, once on a fumble and once on an interception.
John Tyler cashed in each time, Mark Broyles scoring on a three-yard run to cap an eight-play, 40-yard drive with 5:29 left in the third quarter and a one-yard Morris Anderson quarterback sneak with four seconds left in the game, ending a seven-play, 31-yard march. Quincy Stewart recovered a fumble to set up the first score and Roderick Dunn picks off a Kevin Miles pass to set up the final touchdown.
The Lobos were limited to 18 plays in the second half.
After the first quarter, Longview held a 20-3 edge in plays, 91-1 advantage in total yards, but John Tyler was on top where it counted - the scoreboard.
That's because Michael Price picked up a loose Longview fumble on the bounce at his own six-yard line and raced untouched 94 yards with 2:52 remaining.
Oddly enough, the tables turned in the second quarter and Longview was unable to move the ball, getting only four yards on nine plays, but thanks to a 57-yard interception return by cornerback Juan Ingram, the score was deadlocked at the half, 7-7.
The Lobos drove 62 yards in 13 plays on their second possession of the game only to fumble it away, and went from their own 35 to the Lions' 13 early in the second quarter, but a 29-yard Cliff Harris field goal missed its mark.
Two more opportunities filtered away when Longview set up shop at the John Tyler 32- and 36-yard lines in the second period, but each time the John Tyler defense stiffened.
Ingram's interception came with 47 seconds left in the half. The receiver never turned to see the pass from Morris Anderson and Ingram cradled it in on a dead run and scampered to the end zone in front of the John Tyler bench.
At intermission, Longview had only a 95-93 advantage in total yards, but 46 of the Lions' 82 yards rushing came on the final play of the half when Daydrion Taylor and Cory Hutchings dragged down burly Mark Broyles at the Longview 22-yard line as time expired.
John Tyler had four first downs, but two came via penalties and the other on Broyles' run at the close of the stanza. The Lions, in fact, ran only one offensive play in Longview territory - at the 49 - and it resulted in the interception.