WACO - The best denied Longview's quest to be the best.
Lake Travis quarterback Garrett Gilbert lived up to his accolades and helped humble the Lobos, 48-23, in the Class 4A Division I state championship game on Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium. Gilbert passed for 357 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for two additional touchdowns.
Gilbert, who has committed to the University of Texas, is the Gatorade National Player of the Year and the Associated Press' Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year. He added an additional honor Saturday, finishing his high school career with a state record 12,536 passing yards — passing the previous record on a seven-yard pass to Chris Aydam with under three minutes remaining. He broke the record set by current Texas Tech standout Graham Harrell, who had 12,532 yards for Ennis from 2000 to 2003.
"They did everything we saw on film. It just didn't go our way," Longview defensive end Chris Knighton said. "He (Gilbert) just ran his offense. You have to give the man credit."
Longview (13-3) was denied its first state title since 1937. It was the most points the Lobos have allowed since a 52-14 loss to Ruston (La.) in 1999. Lake Travis completed a perfect season at 16-0 and repeated as state champions after winning the Class 4A Division II title in 2007.
Lake Travis started to take command of the game in the second quarter. The Cavaliers capped a 75-yard drive with a 19-yard screen pass for a touchdown from Gilbert to Aydam to take a 14-7 lead with 8:10 remaining.
Longview faced a fourth-and-five at the Lake Travis 45-yard line on its next drive. From punt formation, Aaron Johnson faked a pass attempt and tried to run for the first down, but was stopped by Harry Hatch for a one-yard gain.
Lake Travis took advantage of the stop with an 11-yard touchdown run by Andy Erickson to give the Cavaliers a 21-7 lead with 2:56 left in the first half. Longview's misfortunes in special teams continued on its next drive as Johnson shanked a punt, which went just two yards to the Longview 26-yard line.
Gilbert followed the punt with three straight rushing attempts, including a two-yard touchdown run with 43 seconds remaining in the first half. Gilbert passed for 197 yards in the first half, while rushing for 42. The 28-7 Lake Travis halftime lead was Longview's largest halftime deficit this season.
The Lobos were without two of their best offensive players in the second half. Leading rusher Tyler McCray suffered a left-ankle injury late in the first quarter, while leading receiver Carey Fortson suffered a right-ankle injury in the final minute of the second quarter. Both players were on crutches in the second half.
"Those injuries didn't help us," Longview coach John King said. "They are two big-play guys for us."
Lake Travis opened the second half with 72-yard drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run from Gilbert.
Longview's slim hopes of victory stayed alive when Marty Hobbs drilled a 42-yard field goal with 5:02 remaining, but the competitive part of the game ended when Gilbert found Cade McCrary for a 56-yard touchdown pass with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
Lake Travis had a pair of 100-yard receivers in Austin Pollard (145 yards) and McCrary (118).
"We attacked the middle of the field," Gilbert said. "Austin and Cade did a great job running patterns across the middle."
After passing for 278 yards and four touchdowns last week, Johnson threw for 123 yards on Saturday. Lake Travis coach Chad Morris said his defense hasn't received the respect it deserved this season, and he challenged the Cavaliers to match Longview's physical play. Lake Travis sacked Johnson five times.
"They had a lot of blitzes," Johnson said. "They brought a lot of pressure on the edge of the lines."
Lake Travis opened the scoring on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Gilbert to McCrary with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
Longview struck back immediately with a six-yard touchdown run by Da'Cedric Hunt with 40 seconds left in the first quarter, capping a costly drive as McCray suffered his injury the play before. McCray had three rushing attempts for 46 yards on the drive.
Hunt scored all three of Longview's touchdowns. He finished with 115 yards rushing, 74 on a touchdown run with 1:42 remaining.
Joseph Patillo ended Lake Travis' first drive with an end zone interception. Chris Weaver shook off an early-game arm injury to lead the Lobos with seven tackles. Quinton Crow had seven tackles and two sacks for the Cavaliers.
Longview concluded its first-ever 16-game season and made a state-championship game appearance for the third time in history.
At least for Saturday, those accomplishments provided no comfort for King.
"I don't like losing. These Lobos don't like losing," King said. "We didn't get it done today."