GARLAND - Behind a blistering running game, the Longview Lobos rolled up a season-best 49 points to open the postseason with a Class 5A Division II bi-district victory over North Garland on an overcast and chilly Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
Vondrell McGee rushed for a career-high five touchdowns - four coming in the first half - as the Lobos flexed their No. 5 state ranking with a 49-27 win. It marked Longview’s 11th consecutive victory of the season.
North Garland, out of District 11-5A, finishes its season at 7-4. It was the first-ever meeting between the two schools in football. The Lobos were the 12-5A district champions.
Longview finished with 515 yards total offense, running for 403 behind McGee’s 182 on 16 carries. Quarterback Carlin Freeman completed 6 of 10 passes for 112 yards with one touchdown pass and a two-point conversion throw.
Fullback Chris Ivory ran for an additional 89 yards on 11 carries, while Freeman carried nine times for 86. The junior had a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter as the Lobos finished off their scoring as McGee ran into the end zone for the fifth time from 5 yards out. Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly caught three passes for 75 yards and ran once for 21.
North Garland also added a late score when quarterback Adam Linwood ran for his second TD of the contest. But, it was too little, too late as the Lobos had put up 43 points in the first half alone.
Longview moves on to the face Dallas Jesuit (10-1), which knocked off Dallas Samuell Friday night, 27-7. That game will be played this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Lions Stadium in Ennis. It was the first playoff win for first-year Lobo head coach John King.
“You saw a little bit of everything,” said King. “That was the strangest ballgame with all of the penalties, mistakes in the kicking game, turnovers ... you name it, we did it. Hopefully, we got them all out of the way.”
The drawbacks for Longview included a fumbled snap on a punt, a snap that went over the punter’s head, a poorly executed onside kick attempt, a pair of fumbles and 115 yards in penalties called against the Lobos. The Raiders were flagged for 90 yards in what became a physical and emotional game.
Still, Longview forced three North Garland fumbles, and picked off a pass to set up three touchdown drives. DeKendrick Campbell, Cartez Beall and Tony Johnson each recovered a fumble, while Jarvis Pippins had an interception.
“You got to get that first one out of the way, because you’re matched up against somebody you’re unfamiliar with out of another district,” King continued. “You talk about how one district is to another, but you really don’t know until you play one another.
“I think 2002 is a prime example of that when we matched up with Garland (45-0 Longview win), who was undefeated. You match up with a different district, from a different area and you’re able to come away with a win, I think that just gives your kids confidence.”
North Garland tried to make a game of it early as Longview attempted an onside kick, which Pippins fell on at his own 48.
The Raiders covered the distance in seven plays with Linwood scoring on a 1-yard keeper. Humberto Perez’s extra point drew North Garland to within 14-7 with 5:58 left in the opening quarter.
Then the Longview offense kicked into gear, scoring 29 second-quarter points. The Lobos were also helped out by a second Raider fumble and an interception.
McGee ground out 168 yards on just 10 carries and scored four times. He rumbled 50 yards on Longview’s third play from scrimmage, and then added an 8-yard TD run with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter.
It was following McGee’s second touchdown that the Lobos went for the onside kick. Unfortunately, the ball did not travel to full 10 yards and North Garland took possession.
The Raiders also had another early opportunity when Longview lost the ball by fumbling the snap on a punt. North Garland took possession at the Lobo 44. However, the Lobos held on defense and forced a punt.
Both teams traded possessions before Cody Williams forced a fumble by Linwood, who was trying to the turn the corner in Longview’s end of the field after taking possession at midfield. Cartez Beall fell on the ball at his own 36.
Five plays later, Reese was able to turn the defender around and the 6-5 junior leaped to haul in a 28-yard scoring toss from Freeman in the back of the end zone. With Willie Cloyd’s point-after, Longview led 21-7.
North Garland answered right back with a 77-yard, seven-play drive as Linwood connected with Marcus Franklin, who hung onto a ball that was tipped by Pippins in the left corner of the end zone. However, Perez’s extra point was wide left.
Longview wasted little time as it drove 74 yards in six plays with McGee rumbling in from 20 yards. Freeman then threw to a wide open Ivory for the two-point conversion and a 29-13 lead with 3:23 to play in the first half.
The Lobos would get two more touchdowns, including a 12-yard scoring run by Ivory with 17 seconds to play. That followed a nifty 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Raiders’ Adarius Medford.
McGee’s third touchdown of the game extended the Lobos’ lead to 36-13. Longview’s 24-yard, three-play scoring drive included a 21-yard reverse by Kelly for a first-and-goal at the 3. An interception by Pippins, who returned it 28 yards, set up the TD.
Then came Medford’s long kickoff return. Again, Perez missed the point-after as the Raiders trailed 36-19.
The North Garland score came with plenty of time still left on the clock for the Lobos.
Longview’s final touchdown of the half started at their own 32 with 1:19 showing. Freeman ran for 19 yards, Ivory carried for 9 and McGee ripped off a 25-yard carry. A 12-yard pass completion from Freeman to Kelly moved the ball to the 12.
Two plays later, Ivory ran in for his fifth rushing touchdown of the season.