CORSICANA - The Longview Lobos put the hammer down.
Longview hammered its point home with a strong running game, which propelled the Lobos to a 35-20 win over Dallas Carter in a Class 4A Division I Region II semifinal on Saturday. Tyler McCray was the fuel for the Lobos, with 157 yards rushing, including touchdown runs of 16 and 31 yards to put the game away. Overall, the Lobos had 242 yards rushing.
The Lobos (11-2) advance to the Region II final, facing Waco Midway (12-1) at 8 p.m. next Saturday at Texas Stadium in Irving. Midway knocked off Highland Park 41-36 in the other Region II semifinal on Friday. Carter ends its season at 12-1.
The Lobos received some pre-game motivation Saturday, in part because of a hammer.
After running on to the field from their locker room, the Cowboys edged toward the Longview sideline - with defensive back Kedrick Wilcott holding a sledgehammer over his head.
"The Carter players were saying, 'C'mon, bring it,'" Longview linebacker Chris Weaver said. "That gave us motivation."
Longview head coach John King responded with an emotional speech to his players, drawing a loud response from the Longview fans, which sold out the home side at Tiger Stadium. King said he told his team to respond Carter's words with actions.
Carter head coach Allen Wilson said his 2000 team at John Tyler, which lost in the Class 5A Division II state championship game to Katy, had a similar sledgehammer, but he said the pre-game actions were not planned.
"I didn't know there was going to be taunting," Wilson said. "If I would have known that, I would have put a stop to it."
Wilson said he was impressed with the Lobos' running game.
"They ran the ball better than any team we have faced this season," he said. "Everybody in this day and age is throwing the ball."
Carter also lived up to its forte as a running team with 283 yards rushing. That strength threatened to turn the tide of the game in the second half.
The Cowboys opened the half with an 80-yard drive on 14 straight running plays, ending with a 16-yard touchdown run by Anthony Miller that cut Longview's lead to 21-14. The Lobos followed with a three-and-out possession.
Carter's next drive stalled at its own 46-yard line when Longview's Jeremiah Farley stopped Chason White for no gain on third-and-six play. The Lobos countered with a 59-yard drive, capped by McCray's 16-yard touchdown run, giving the Lobos a 28-14 lead 9:29 remaining. McCray's touchdown was set up by a four-yard run by Jonathan Oliver on a third-and-four play.
"Making the third-down conversion was big for us," King said. "Carter has a great scheme with their running game. We held on."
Carter struck back quickly with a 60-yard touchdown run by Trevion Miller with 9:06 remaining to cut Longview's lead to 28-20. McCray kept Carter at bay on Longview's next 80-yard drive, running five times for 67 yards, including his 31-yard touchdown run with 5:17 remaining.
Longview controlled most of the first quarter. The Lobos took the opening drive 77 yards and capped it with a 12-yard touchdown run by Oliver.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cameron Jones forced Carter's Dunston Owens to fumble and Weaver recovered at the Carter 23-yard line. This set up a bit of luck for the Lobos, as a 13-yard Aaron Johnson pass was deflected by Ladarrin Robertson to Cody Taylor in the back in the end zone for a touchdown. That gave the Lobos a 14-0 lead with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
Carter changed the momentum for most of the second quarter. The Cowboys had a 14-play, 71-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by White. The key play on the drive was a fourth-and-four at the Longview 49-yard line that Carter converted on an eight-yard run by Anthony Miller.
Carter's second attempt at a fourth-down conversion backfired.
Carter attempted a fourth-and-one at its own 44-yard line on its next drive, but White was stopped inches short of a first down by a gang of Lobos. Longview responded with a 36-yard pass from Johnson to Aaron Hollins, which set up a one-yard touchdown run by McCray with 41 seconds left in the second quarter to give the Lobos a 21-7 halftime lead.
"I think the fourth-down stop was the biggest play of the game. It told us we could stop them," Weaver said. "I think we did a better job of filling in the holes on run plays later in the game."
Weaver finished with two tackles for losses, including a sack. Bryce Redman, a standout offensive lineman who has rarely played defense this year had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter that was forced by Jovrious Brown.
Johnson finished with 124 total yards. Trevion Miller had 97 yards rushing on nine carries, while Anthony Miller had 94 yards rushing on 16 carries. Carter did not commit a penalty the entire game, while just two penalties for 10 yards were called on the Lobos.
The Texas Stadium visit will be Longview's first since beating South Garland in a Class 5A area playoff last year and will be the first trip for some Lobos.
"It's a good feeling to know we're going," Weaver said. "Ever since the third grade, I always wanted to play there."