LONGVIEW - Home, sweet home.
Longview returned to the friendly confines of Lobo Stadium Friday night and improved its home standing record this season to 5-0 with a 28-23 win over the Marshall Mavericks. But it didn't come cheaply either.
Lobo tailback Willie Andrews and Maverick quarterback Austin Christmas hooked up in a shootout as the two rivals met for the 89th time in one of the state's longest high school rivalries. Andrews rushed for 196 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns, while Christmas was 17 of 27 for 217 yard through the air and a touchdown.
"It was a big win for our football team," said Longview coach Pat Collins. "I thought Marshall had a great plan, offensively. They made some changes which didn't gee us a chance to tee off on their quarterback. They had some big plays on us, but then they are a big team."
The win improves the Lobos to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in District 12-5A. The Mavericks fall to 4-4 and 0-3. Marshall has lost four in a row since opening the season at 4-0.
"I wish we could play all out football games at Lobo Stadium," Collins continued. "Willie never ceases to amaze me, but then a lot of other players came through and did the things we needed to do. We had to make big plays tonight, because it was a big time game."
Longview, which led 7-0 early and 14-10 at halftime, fell behind on a 12-yard run by Jason Roberts to give the Mavs their first lead at 16-14 at the 10:56 mark of the third quarter. Marshall had taken its opening drive of the second half and driven 48 yards in three plays. The drive - all runs by Roberts - was set up Victor Bennett's 51-yard return on the kickoff.
However, the Lobos came up big on special teams again and blocked Adam Williams' extra point attempt. They had earlier blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt by Williams.
Longview answered right back with a 52-yard, 8-play drive. Artillious Allison returned Marshall's kickoff 46 yard. Armstrong also had a key 21-yard keeper on third-and-two, and then Andrews rambled in for his second touchdown from eight yards out.
Armstrong also converted the two-point conversion to put the Lobos on top 22-16 with 6:41 left in the quarter.
But again, the victory did not come easy as Longview put the ball on the ground four times, losing it on three occasions. The last time coming as the Lobos were driving at the Marshall 41-yard line.
The Mavericks took over and reached the Longview 35. But on foruth-and-eight, a fake punt turned into a pass interception as LaMario Hollis picked off a Christmas pass to kill the drive. It was Hollis' fourth interception of the season.
Longview would need a dose of poise to push across another touchdown. A 15-yard personal foul against Marshall moved the ball into Maverick territory. But back-to-back yellow flags against the Lobos moved the ball back to midfield, negating a fist down and eventually forcing a third-and-15 with under 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
However, despite pressure on him, Armstrong was able to find Josh Sanders for a 41-yard catch-and-run to the Maverick 9. One play later, Allison bolted into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
Christmas drove Marshall back downfield, although the Mavericks had to burn two timeouts and the clock continued to tick down. Leonard Berryman finalized the drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception with 1:43 to play.
Marshall then went for the onside kick, which Darnell Lucas covered up for Longview. A 14-yard run by Andrews on third down sealed the victory.
Armstrong threw just five passes, but completed four for 114 yards. He also added 46 yards on 10 carries.
Roberts finished with 97 yards on 17 carries. Rashad Turner caught seven passes for 121 yards, plus threw a 29-yard touchdown strike to Victor Bennett.