IRVING - So close, yet so far.
With the end zone and a second-round come-from-behind victory just 24 yards away, the clock expired on the Longview Lobos' 2001 football season as Allen hung on for a 20-17 victory here Saturday afternoon at Texas Stadium in a Region II Class 5A, Division II area playoff.
The Lobos close out their season at 7-5. A season that saw them turnaround a 3-7 record of a year ago and make the playoffs for the first time in four years. It also saw them knock off two Top 10 state-ranked teams, including three-time defending 5A champion Midland Lee, and lose to another state-ranked program as well as a nationally-ranked football team.
Allen improves to 10-2 on the year.
Longview started the final drive at its own 23 after forcing Allen to turn the ball over on downs with 2:28 remaining.
The Lobos, who rallied all afternoon behind the arm of quarterback Joel Armstrong, faced fourth-hand-15 at the Allen 48 with under 12 seconds to play. Armstrong connected with LaRandall McKind, who caught a short pass as the time ticked down to eight seconds, but he needed to get both a first down and get out of bounds to stop the clock. McKind got the first down, but he was tackled inbounds as time expired.
"We had too far to go without a lot of time left on the clock," said Lobo coach Pat Collins. "We had nearly 80 yards to drive with a little over two minutes remaining. If you had the ball in better field position and at least one time, you've got something to work with.
"They (Allen) made the plays when they needed to. I didn't see anybody running wide open for us, so you have to give them credit for being a four-quarter football team
just like the Lobos. I knew it was going to be one of those four-quarter games."
Longview had gotten possession after stopping Allen for the first time in the game on fourth down. Three previous times the Eagles had gone for it on fourth down and converted. Twice, it kept drives alive that resulted in touchdowns.
"Every time you see people on film, you never really realize their quickness and strength until you actually play them," Collins said. "I thought they had a good scheme. We took the ball on the opening kickoff and drove it right down the field, and wound up with three points. I think at the time, it gave us some false illusions about the way it was going to be."
Behind a 1,000-yard rusher in Willie Andrews, and another combined 1,000 yards from Armstrong and Fred Hawkins, Allen bottled up the Lobos' ground game. That forced Longview to go to the air, where Armstrong threw for two big scoring plays en route to 202 yards.
Trailing 14-3, Armstrong threw off his back foot after being flushed from the pocket at his own 18, connecting with Andrews, who was just beyond midfield, for a 72-yard touchdown completion with 9:24 to play in the third quarter.
With 35 seconds left in the quarter, Josh Sanders outlawed an Allen defender in the end zone to pull in an Armstrong pass for a 31-yard touchdown. The Eagles had just marched downfield to go up 20-9 when Longview stormed back with a 70-yard, 10-play drive. The Lobos had also gambled on fourth-and-two from their own 38.
Longview had come up short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt following their first touchdown. But after climbing to within five, 20-15, Brandon Templeton found enough room to squeeze into the end zone.
Allen present Longview with a gift opportunity on its next possession as Nick Jones fell on a fumble at the Eagle 26. However, the drive stalled at the 20 and Alex Cammack's 36-yard field goal try was blocked. He had earlier converted from 38 yards on the Lobos' series of the game.
The Lobos managed just 81 yards on the ground, with Andrews being held to 14 on seven carries. Hawkins led the team with 60 yards on 11 carries. Armstrong finished with minus-3 yards, which included five sacks. His 202 yards passing came on 9 of 19 attempts.
Armstrong did throw on interception, which proved costly as Allen defender Brandon Gray picked it off at the Lobo 25 and returned it to the 5-yard line. Three plays later, Ryan Castillo burst through the middle for the first of his two touchdown as the Eagles led 14-3 with 4:10 left before halftime.
Allen had taken a 7-3 lead with 2:21 to play in the opening quarter on a 21-yard scoring pass from Kyle Westerberg to Gray. The Eagles benefited from good field position as the Lobos struggled in their special teams, both in punting and allowing Allen good returns.
After Longview scored on the long Armstrong-to-Andrews catch-and-run, Allen marched 57 yards in nine plays. A 17-yard kickoff return by Obriant Webb and a 15-yard personal foul called against the Lobos gave the Eagles good field position.
Castillo scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run. Allen attempted a two-point conversion, but the pass fell incomplete with 5:19 left in the third quarter. Castillo led all rushers with 64 yards on 25 carries. The Eagles finished with 199 total yards.
Longview's subsequent touchdown came on a flea-flicker as Armstrong handed it off to Andrews, who flipped it back to Armstrong. Andrews did catch three passes for 103 yards.
Linebacker Marvin Byrdsong dominated the defense with 20 tackles, including eight solos. James Stephens had six solos and four assists.