LONGVIEW - Longview threw convention out the window in Friday night's final regular season game at Lobo Stadium. The Lobos tried two onside kicks, attempted three fourth-down conversions and went for a fake punt.
They converted on just half the attempts, but it was enough to throw off Tyler Lee and ignite Longview to a 31-14 victory on a cold, chilly Senior Night. Prior to the ballgame, Lobo coach Pat Collins recognized the 19 senior players, plus two student assistants and their parents.
Longview also snapped a five-game losing streak to the Red Raiders, and more than likely knocked them from their one-week ranking as the state's No. 10 team in Class 5A. The Lobos improved to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in district, while Lee fell to 6-3 and 4-1.
Both teams are already playoff bound, with Lee headed to Division I and Longview competing in Division II. The Lobos close the regular season next Friday at Lufkin, and Lee is the home team in its cross-town rivalry with John Tyler at Rose Stadium.
Quarterback Joel Armstrong threw for 127 yards, all in the first half, and picked up 69 yards on the ground with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Tailback Jerrel Williams went over 100 yards for the sixth time this season with 101 on 12 carries and two TDs. His yardage also pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark with 1,042.
Receiver Malcolm Kelly also had four catches for 72 yards, while Tate Casey caught two passes for 32.
"We told our football team we were going to do everything we could (as coaches) to win this football game," Collins said. "They've got great kick returners, and if they get the football at the 50-yard line, so what, at least we prevent them from being able to bust one. I thought we put a good game plan in, and I thought all of those things had a way of balancing out before it's over with. We felt like we were going to beat them."
"Our football team was ready to play football. I'm not sure Tyler Lee was as ready to play as we were. I think that shows everyone the balance we have in this district. We went over to Tyler and had a chance to win there, but our football team proved that we re a playoff contender and deserve that berth. I couldn't be more proud of the plan our coaches put in, and the leadership we got from those seniors tonight."
It was not an inauspicious start, however, as Longview twice laid the football on the ground. But the defense held the Red Raiders to only a pair of Cole Scates field goals, from 41 and 36 yards, as they chewed up most of the first quarter.
For the second straight week, the Lobos exploded in the second quarter. A week ago against JT, they put up 28 points. Friday, they scored 21 on three straight possessions, including a drive following a successful onside kick.
It started with the partial block of a Josh Hill punt by Keith Johnson that went for just two yards. Starting at the Lee 19, Armstrong ran three straight plays, scoring on a 4-yard bootleg run with 11:33 showing in the second quarter.
On Lee's first play after the ensuing kickoff, Longview safety Keaton Daniels made a leaping interception of a Matt Flynn pass at the Lobo 39. Although the Lobos stumbled briefly, losing 13 yards on a sack of Armstrong, the senior quarterback threw a 17-yard completion to Kelly and ran two yards to convert on fourth-and-two from his own 47.
Williams had a key 17-yard run, and Armstrong connected again with Kelly for 21 more yards. Williams took it the final seven yards to conclude a 61-yard, nine-play drive at the 6:39 mark.
The Lobos then went for the onside kick, their second of the game, and this time Terence Willis fell on the ball for Longview at the Lee 49. Armstrong threw passes of 25 and 24 yards to Rogers Taylor and Kelly, setting up first-and-goal at the one. But a 10-yard holding penalty wiped out a Williams' TD run. Backed up, Williams got a second chance with an 8-yard carry into the end zone.
Lee finally put together a scoring drive, covering 67 yards in nine plays as Tyrone Ross rumbled in from four yards with 45 seconds left in the opening half. The touchdown came on fourth-and-two from the Lobo three. Flynn also completed a two-point conversion pass to Brandon Acklin.
Holding a 21-14 lead, the Lobos then marched to the 20 in the closing seconds of the half. However, Alex Cammack's 36-yard field goal attempt fell short of the crossbar.
In the second half, Longview held Lee to just three offensive series and twice got the ball back on downs.
The Lobos also got a 24-yard field goal from Cammack with 26 seconds to play in the third quarter. They then ran a time-consuming 71-yard, 13-play drive which Armstrong finish off on a fourth-down dive into the end zone with 17 ticks left on the clock.
Longview compiled 225 yards on the ground, and finished with 352 yards total offense. Lee was held to 203, after amassing 338 in the first meeting on Oct. 11 at Rose Stadium, a 28-21 Red Raider win.