LONGVIEW - One year after reaching the Class 5A, Division I state finals, the Longview Lobos will find themselves relegated to the role of spectator when the 1998 postseason rolls around.
A couple of Longview mistakes and a bruising John Tyler ground game silenced the Lobos in a crushing 28-14 defeat Friday night before a stunned home crowd in the regular season finale at Lobo Stadium.
''I think our seniors deserve better than this,'' said a disappointed Lobo head coach Robert Bero. ''Things just haven't gone our way in district. A lot of times you create your own luck and we just haven't had any on our side, so far. This is a tough district and we just came up on the short end.''
Longview closes out the regular season next Friday at Nacogdoches.
The Lions ran roughshod through the Lobo defense to the tune of 296 yards as nine different players carried the ball. Quarterback Tray Porter scored twice en route to 80 yards on seven carries, while Darrel Asbell led the way with 91 on 14 totes.
Fred Talley answered for Longview with a game-high 132 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown.
However, the Lion defense for the most part smothered the Lobo offense, giving up just 67 yards rushing and 10 passing.
A fired up John Tyler defensive unit sacked Trey Pierce six times as the Lobo quarterback finished with minus-42 yards. A low snap to punter William Morrison, following Longview's initial series of the game led to a loss of 23 yards.
The botched punt attempt also set up the Lions' first score as they took possession at the Lobo eight-yard line. Two plays later, Farrel Asbell ran in from five yards out.
For the four straight district ballgame, Longview was playing catchup.
The Lobos rallied as Morrison ran straight up the middle on the Lions' punt attempt with their second possession, blocking Eric Neely's kick which Frank Cox recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Erik Hargrave tacked on the extra point with 11:52 showing in the second quarter for a 7-7 tie.
Longview's score by the special teams came after it put together a 17-play drive, driving from its own 30 to the John Tyler one-yard line. However, Pierce was sacked by Eric Giddens for a 10-yard loss on third-and-goal.
Talley had carried the ball on 12 of the plays for 68 yards, but Pierce attempted a bootleg run to the right side of the field. Hargrave's 29-yard field goal attempt sailed wide to the left on fourth down.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Lobos appeared to have John Tyler pinned down after Porter tried the bring the ball out of the end zone and was tackled at his own nine. But the Lions then put together a time-consuming drive, taking six minutes, 58 seconds off the clock, before Porter scored on a 10-yard bootleg run with 4:45 left before halftime.
Longview opened the second half with a solid defensive series as Cox and Morrison both stopped John Tyler for losses in the backfield. However, Neely redeemed himself with a 60-yard punt after the Lobos appeared to be looking at good field possession.
A combined sack of Pierce by Tim Rose and LurBryan Ross forced Longview to punt from deep in its own territory. A 27-yard punt gave the Lions the ball at the Lobos 46.
Again, John Tyler stuck to the ground - the Lions only pass went for 26 yards on the final play of the first half. Luck was also on the side of the Lions as Asbell fumbled the ball at the one and tackle Nicholas Bagley recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown with 2:57 remaining in the quarter.
But the Lions would turn it over one series later as Mark Peters stripped the ball from Farrel Asbell and Brian Davis recovered for Longview at the John Tyler 31. On the second play, Talley took the toss around the left end and outran the defense into the end zone. Hargrave's extra point closed the deficit to 20-14.
The Lobos had one more opportunity, but had to start deep again in their own territory after a 51-yard Neely punt. Starting at their own 18, Longview converted a fourth-and-one on a Pierce's 2-yard sneak to the 29.
The John Tyler defense stiffened and on fourth-and-11, after Pierce was sacked for a 6-yard loss, Morrison on a fake punt threw a 10-yard pass to Almarcus Williams, who stumbled before his reached the first down marker, turning the ball over to the Lions with 5:06 remaining.
Porter then cemented the game for John Tyler with a 37-yard touchdown run.