LONGVIEW - Longview's football team played its longest game on Friday. The Lobos endured the marathon to make it memorable for another reason.
Longview outlasted Lufkin through triple overtime for a 45-37 victory at Lobo Stadium. Tyler McCray scored the game-winning points on a seven-yard touchdown in the third overtime possession, and added his own two-point conversion. Addison McGee and Lamarcus Howard broke up a Jeremy Claybon pass on fourth-and-22 to end the game.
The length of the game for Longview surpassed a double-overtime win over Tyler Lee in 1996 and a double-overtime loss to Marshall in 1998. Longview (3-1), ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press' Class 4A state poll, becomes the fourth Class 4A program to win 600 games, joining Corsicana, Wichita Falls and Highland Park.
Lufkin (2-1), ranked No. 9 in the AP Class 5A state poll, battled valiantly considering many team members did not have power at their homes this week because of Hurricane Ike, canceling this past school week for Lufkin.
In the first overtime, McCray scored on a three-yard touchdown run. Lufkin faced a fourth-and-seven on its possession, but Claybon found D'adrick Lee for a 19-yard gain, setting a touchdown by Claybon, who recovered his own fumble in the end zone.
On the next play from scrimmage, Claybon found Kasey Jones for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Longview countered with Da'Cedric Hunt, who had three straight carries, including a 17-yard touchdown run.
In the third overtime however, Longview ran two running plays to set up McCray. The Panthers appeared fatigued in the second half, with at least six stoppages of play from what appeared to play players suffering from cramps.
Longview quarterback Aaron Johnson was the primary reason the game went to overtime in the first place.
Trailing 20-9 and facing a fourth-and-eight, Johnson found Carey Fortson for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 6:44 remaining. McCray was stopped on a two-point conversion run to keep the game at 20-15.
After the Lobos forced a three-and-out possession, Johnson executed to straight option runs for 54 combined yards, including a 38-yard touchdown sprint with 2:24 remaining. A two-point conversion run by Hunt gave Longview a 23-20 lead.
Unfortunately for the Lobos, they committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a personal foul on ensuing plays. A 34-yard kickoff return by Tra Horace helped put Lufkin at the Longview 31-yard line. Claybon found Jones for seven yards on a fourth-and-five play, helping set up Sterling Meyers, who kicked a 22-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
Longview's last drive of the third quarter ended when Carrington Byndom intercepted a Johnson pass and returned it to the Lufkin one-yard line. On the ensuing play however, Melvin Templeton tackled Lufkin running back Tre'von Lewis in the Lufkin end zone for a safety, cutting Lufkin's lead to 20-9.
Lufkin controlled the pace of the first half, with a 223-73 edge in total yards and a 14-5 advantage in first downs.
Lufkin started the scoring with 3:24 left in the first quarter, when Lewis took a Claybon screen pass and rambled 11 yards for a touchdown. Longview could not take advantage of good field position on its first two drives, scoring no points after Dominique Thomas recovered a surprise onside kick to open the game and Howard fumble recovery.
Howard did strike again with an interception with 42 seconds left in the first quarter. The Lobos took advantage of this turnover, and a 28-yard run by Johnson set up a seven-yard touchdown run by McCray with 11:15 left in the second quarter.
Lufkin struck back immediately, with Claybon finding Quinn Trimble on a 27-yard timing-pattern touchdown pass, capping a 90-yard drive with 8:33 left in the first half.
The Panthers struck again with 1:45 left in the first half, as Lufkin cornerback JaCorey Smiley forced Longview receiver Aaron Hollins to fumble at the 50-yard line and Corey Shy recovered for Lufkin. Claybon threw his third touchdown pass of the half with two seconds remaining, finding Lee for a 19-yard strike on a third-and-goal play to give Lufkin a 20-7 halftime lead. Claybon passed for 136 yards in the first half and finished with 210 yards passing and four touchdowns.
Johnson accounted for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
The Lobos open District 13-4A next Friday, hosting Texas High.