DUNCANVILLE - When in doubt, go with the man who brought you to the dance, even if he has a gimpy leg.
Fred tally overcame a twisted left ankle to score a pair of touchdowns and rush for a modest, but crucial, 94 yards on 10 carries, as the Longview Lobos fought off a determined Dallas Skyline team 23-9 Saturday in a Class 5A Division I bi-district playoff at Panther Stadium.
The No. 1-ranked Lobos improve to 11-0 and will face Plano East in a Region II semifinal next Saturday at a time and site to be determined. Skyine, which fell 48-17 to Longview in last year's playoff opener, closes out the year at 6-5.
After scoring just three points and gaining 106 total yards offense through most of three quarters, Talley and the Lobos finally turned the tide with 20 points. However, through most of that time, the 5'10, 165-pound junior was standing on the sideline after re-injuring his left ankle.
"They were doing a lot of things defensively, moving in and out," said Longview head coach Robert Bero. "They really confused us some early in the football game. I thought our team early responded there about halfway through the third quarter.
"We started putting our face on people and blocking some people. We went back and got in our Lobo formation (full house backfield) and I think that was the difference."
Talley, who twisted his ankle in the regular season finale against Marshall, played just two series in the first half. He didn't re-enter the game until Longview's opening drive of the second half.
But it was Longview's second possession where Talley simply shook off the injury. Talley carried the ball five times for 37 yards, while gathering in a screen pass for another 41 to pace the decisive drive of the ballgame.
The pass to Talley from quarterback Jay Hurst, his only completion of the game, came on third-and-21 at Longview's own 42-yard line. talley took an opening on the left side of the line, then headed across the field before being driven out of bounds on the far sideline. After a five-yard penalty for illegal procedure, an 8-yard run by Jesse James, who picked up 70 yards on 15 carries in substituting for Talley, took the ball to the Raider 18.
Talley then gained six yards for a first down at the eight, before picking up his 17th rushing touchdown of the season with 9:50 left to play.
"Fred just made up his mind and decided to go out and play, and did a great job," said Hurst. "We didn't have a good week of practice and so as a result, we didn't play very well. We're going to have to come back this next week and work a little harder.
"We knew that there would be a few people unblocked out there, but he (Talley) made a good move and put on the burners," Hurst said of the 72-yard, 10-play touchdown drive.
Although Talley appeared to be favoring his ankle after the long run on the screen pass, he came back on the Lobos' next series for a 39-yard run down the left sideline. Middle linebacker Leon Bell nearly broke for daylight on the first play from scrimmage with a 19-yard scamper from Longview's own 32-yard line to the Raider 49. The drive covered 68 yards in three plays.
The Lobos' final touchdown came with 24 seconds to play as Calvin Coleman sprinted 17 yards after Skyline turned the ball over on downs at its own 17.
The Raiders finally put up their lone touchdown as the clock expired. Randy Davis took a short screen pass at his 15, fumbled the ball and picked up reversing his field and then running 82 for the score.
The second half turned physical as both Longview's Dexter Daniels and Skyline's Montreil Flowers were ejected in a span of three plays early in the third quarter.
"We knew it was going to be physical," said Bell. "We could either let them score or turn it up a notch."
Longview had squandered several scoring opportunities in the first half as Skyline fumbled three times in its half of the field. But the only points the Lobos could produce was a 34-yard field goal by Erin Roerecke.
However, the Raiders also got a successful 40-yard field goal from Patrick Mitchell to leave the teams deadlocked at intermission.
Skyline turned the ball over at their own 23-, 18- and 36-yard lines, but the Lobo offense got bogged down. They turned the ball back over to the Lobos on their first offensive series as Bell fell on the football. But two plays later, Longview gave it right back.
Lobo defensive back Jackson then forced the second miscue by the Raiders and linebacker Jacob Pierce scooped it up, giving the Lobos a first-down at the Skyline 18. Talley re-injured his left ankle on the first play from scrimmage and after a two-yard run by James and an incomplete pass, Roerecke converted with 7:43 showing on the clock.
Skyline also had another field goal opportunity as Mitchell came up short on a 58-yard attempt with 24 seconds left in the half.