DALLAS - Longview proved in more ways than one it was a good idea to keep the ball on the ground Friday.
On offense, Tyler McCray led a strong Longview running game which sparked a 49-22 romp over Lancaster in a Class 4A Division I area playoff. The Lobos had 371 yards rushing, including 157 by McCray. The junior running back also had three touchdown runs, including two in the third quarter to give the Lobos a 35-14 lead.
On defense, the Lobos made Lancaster pay for throwing the ball with three interceptions, including one by Alonte Darden that he returned 99 yards for a touchdown to end Longview's scoring with 4:13 remaining. After throwing for 257 yards and two touchdowns in a bi-district playoff win over Waco a week ago, Lancaster quarterback Thedford Rhodes was held to 70 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Longview (10-2) advances to a Region II semifinal against Dallas Carter (12-0), which defeated Richardson J.J. Pearce 62-28 on Friday. The Lobos and Cowboys will meet at 2 p.m. a week from today at Tiger Stadium in Corsicana.
The Lobos took command of the game quickly. They ran eight consecutive running plays on the game's opening drive, ending with a 14-yard touchdown run by Da'Cedric Hunt. Hunt finished with 87 yards rushing on 11 carries.
After Longview's defense forced and three-and-out Lancaster possession, five straight running plays set up Longview's first pass attempt, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Johnson to Cody Taylor to give Longview a 14-0 lead with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
Johnson also got a big play on defense on Lancaster's next drive. Playing safety, he intercepted a Rhodes pass and returned it 22 yards to the Lancaster 24-yard line. The Lobos couldn't cash in however as a Hunt fumble was recovered by Lancaster linebacker Lance Skyler at the Lancaster four-yard line.
Three players later however, Longview's defense struck again as Lamarcus Howard made a diving interception that he caught while lying on his back at the Lancaster 29-yard line. That play set up a three-yard touchdown run by McCray with 9:50 left in the first half, helping give Longview a 21-0 halftime lead. McCray had 104 yards rushing on 12 attempts in the first half.
Longview's defense may have had its best half of the season in the first half. The Lobos held Lancaster to 21 total yards and the Tigers did not get a first down until there 31 seconds left in the half.
Lancaster did start the second half strong as Phillip Harvey replaced Rhodes at quarterback and had four rushing attempts for 48 yards on the second half's first drive, ending with a five-yard touchdown run. Longview countered with a 68-yard drive, ending with a two-yard TD run by McCray.
Harvey rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns for Lancaster, all in the second half. Longview fullback Jonathan Oliver rushed for 98 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Lancaster defensive end Cordarious Golston did not play because of an ankle injury suffered in the second half of Lancaster's bi-district playoff win over Waco last week. Golston is a probable Division I-A college recruit. Lancaster receiver Freeman Kelley, who has verbally committed to the University of Tulsa, had three receptions for 35 yards.
Two Longview defensive linemen appeared to suffer injuries in the second half. Nose guard Bubba Vactor left the game with an apparent ankle injury. Defensive end Chris Knighton left the game early in the fourth.