LONGVIEW - Fred Talley kickstarted the offense and Longview's Mean Green unit delivered the knockout punch Friday night as the Lobos clinched their first playoff berth in three years with a 21-7 win over Nacogdoches.
It was certainly a fitting way to cap Longview High School's 1996 Homecoming celebration at Lobo Stadium. The Lobos are now 7-1 overall and 3-0 in District 12-5A, where they share the top spot with Marshall - the final opponent of the regular season.
For the fifth straight week, Talley went over 100 yards. His 181 on 16 carries also pushed the sophomore over 1,000 yards for the season. He also scored twice, knotting the game in the second quarter on a 14-yard run and then adding the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 63-yarder.
"I think it's a combination of Fred and Tajuan (Stoker). We've really been a very productive team in the second half. I think a whole lot of that is do to those backs are not worn out in the last part of the third quarter and the fourth," said Longview head coach Robert Bero.
"They're pretty much getting an equal number of carries each game. They're fresh toward the end of the game. A fresh Talley in the fourth quarter, when the defense is tired, is going to be tough on people."
Talley had only 29 yards on six carries at halftime.
Stoker, a senior who starts at tailback, has become the set up man for Talley. Stoker finished with 65 yards on 18 carries, and put the game out of reach on an 18-yard scoring run with 5:03 to play.
Defensively, the Lobos registered six quarterback sacks and nine overall tackles for negative yardage against the Dragons. Linebacker Leon Bell assisted on two quarterback sacks and also made a solo against Nacogdoches' Cary Wheaton. Linebacker Bryan Templeton assisted Bell on a sack and made two additional tackles in the backfield for losses.
Longview's Mean Green allowed just 152 yards total offense.
The Lobo defense also set up the first touchdown. Tackle Essick Shead intercepted a Wheaton pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 40 yards to the Dragon 18-yard line. Two plays later, Talley raced 14 yards with 2:07 remaining before halftime. Erin Roerecke's extra point knotted the game at 7-7.
Nacogdoches (3-5, 1-2) had taken the game's opening kickoff and driven 68 yards in seven plays to take the lead. Kavonski Chapman finished off the series from one yard out. He had raced 46 yards on the previous play to set up the touchdown with 8:34 showing the clock.
A fumble and having to punt into a stiff south wind that followed a steady rain in the first half, left the defense having to contain the Dragons during the third quarter.
Talley's 63-yard sprint to the end zone with 8:47 left in the fourth quarter to complete a brief four-play, 79-yard drive. Quarterback Jay Hurst and split end Steven Bradley also hooked for a 14-yard first down reception.