IRVING - Jay Hurt's one-yard quarterback keeper for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter earned the Longview Lobos a second consecutive berth in the Class 5A Division I State Quarterfinals with a 21-10 victory over Plano East Saturday night at Texas Stadium.
Longview will meet Killeen Ellison on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pennington Field in Bedford. The Lobos dropped a 17-16 heartbreaker a year ago to the Eagles on the same field.
The top-ranked Lobos, who did not have a first down in the second half until their game-preserving drive, went 62 yards in 10 plays to put down a deliberate, but mistake-riddled Plano East squad. The Panthers coughed the ball up three times, twice in the first half, when they had driven deep into Longview territory.
"We knew coming in they were going to play ball-controlled offense, and they did a great job of keeping the ball away from us," said Lobo head coach Robert Bero, whose team moves to 12-0 on the season. "In the third quarter, they were playing a little soft on the corners and gave us some underneath stuff. That helped us get some momentum going."
Fred Talley keyed Longview's closing drive with 37 yards on four carries. Hurst also went to the air and connected with Shawn Byrdsong for an 11-yard completion and then hit Dexter Daniels for 12 yards, which gave the Lobos a first-and-goal at the Panther two-yard line. However, it took an off-sides call against Plano East to move the ball about a foot from the goal line on third down before Hurst scrambled into the end zone.
Talley finished with 116 yards on 20 carries. He had 74 in the first half as the Lobos used the big play to grab the early lead. Together, Hurst and Lee Nix combined on 9 of 15 for 110 yards and one touchdown.
Plano East (8-4) closed the gap to 14-10 with 7:52 showing as Ryan McCreight's 40-yard field goal just made it over the crossbar. The Panthers, as they had all game, put together a clock-eating drive. They traveled just 52 yards, but in 15 plays, using up seven minutes, 12 seconds to end the third quarter and begin the fourth.
Twice in the drive, Plano East converted on fourth down, including a fake punt. However, Frank Cox came up from defensive tackle possession for Longview to make crucial back-to-back tackles, including a 3-yard sack of quarterback Clint Guinn.
While Plano East dominated the clock in the first half, it was Longview that found the big play when it needed it.
Subbing for Hurst on the Lobos' fifth drive of the game, Nix led the Lobos on a 74-yard, eight-play drive, hitting Byrdsong on a slant pass into the end zone for a 14-7 lead at intermission. The key play in Longview's march was a 48-yard pass completion to Daniels, moving the ball from the Lobo 21 to Plano East's 31-yard line.
Daniels, who had set up the Lobos' first scoring drive with a 43-yard punt return, had dropped a couple of catchable passes before latching on the big gainer down the left side of the field.
Nix also called his own number on fourth-and-one from the Panther 22. He scooted 14-yards before running out of bounds with under 30 seconds left in the half. Eric Roerecke tacked on the point after.
On the punt return, where the ball bounced away from him, he fielded it at his own 18-yard line and took it up the right sideline before being caught the Plano East 38. It took just one play before Talley burst through the line and went the distance t the 8:39 mark of the first quarter.
The Panthers evened the score with 1:08 showing in the quarter as Phillip Hayes ran straight up the middle for an 11-yard scoring play. McCreight tied the contest at 7-7 with the extra point.
Plano East's drive covered 54 yards in nine plays. A 17-yard pass from Guinn to Robert Hardin gave the Panthers a first down on a third-and-eight play.
Two fumbles by the Panthers stymied two early drives by Plano East deep inside Longview territory.
Monyae Watkins fumbled on the opening drive of the game at the Lobo seven-yard line, which was recovered by Tracy Brooks. The Panthers marched from their own 33 and took almost six minutes off the clock.
One series later, Plano East's Andrae Harris returned a punt 23 yards for a first down at the Lobo 28-yard line. But on the opening play, Guinn was hit by Brian Davis on a safety blitz, forcing a fumble which was recovered by William Morrison for the Lobos.