CORSICANA - Longview had three quarters of redemption on Saturday. The defense took care of the fourth, capped by a clutch play by LaDarius Brooks.
In Longview's 28-25 win over Carrollton Newman Smith in a Class 4A Division I Region II semifinal at Tiger Stadium, Brooks deflected a pass from Aldo Quiroga to Al Lasker on a third-and-10 play at the Longview 30-yard line. The play forced Newman Smith to try a game-tying, 47-yard field goal by Philippe Ichter with 1:54 remaining, but Ichter's attempt was wide right.
Newman Smith had 62 total yards and was held scoreless in the fourth quarter, after gaining 274 yards the previous three.
"The receiver (Lasker) chopped his feet. When he did that, I knew I could break to the ball to get an interception or knock it away," Brooks said. "We played good at the end, but we need to be better next week. We came out a little drowsy."
Longview (12-1), ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press' Class 4A state poll, advances to the Region II final to face No. 3 Waxahachie (13-0) at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas. Newman Smith ends the most successful playoff run in the 32-year history of the school with a 10-3 season record.
Newman Smith coach Paul Ressa said he was going to let Ichter try the field goal, even though there were swirling wind conditions.
"He kicked from there in the pre-game. We were going to let him try it no matter what," Resse said. "If we didn't we still had to convert a fourth-and-10."
Newman Smith got the ball back with 3:52 remaining when Longview running back Da'Cedric Hunt was stopped for no gain by Zach Smith on a fourth-and-one play at the Newman Smith 29-yard line.
That was a rare slip for an offense which was otherwise solid. Longview had 410 yards of offense, including 301 yards rushing. With the exception of ending the first half deep in their own territory, the Lobos scored touchdowns in their first four drives of the game.
The last touchdown, a three-yard score by Hunt with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter, turned out to be the game winner. Longview's offense rebounded from a seven-point, 228-yard effort in last week's 14-13 area-playoff win over Hewitt Midway, in which the Lobos scored a defensive touchdown.
Tyler McCray led Longview's running game with 155 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 15 carries, a performance Longview head coach John King said showed courage considering McCray had an injured ankle.
"Our offense knew they didn't play well (against Hewitt Midway), but some of that was Midway's defense. Newman Smith hadn't seen our style offense very often this season. We were able to move the ball and control the clock," King said. "After the half, our defense adjusted.
"This was a gutsy win."
Quarterback Aaron Johnson was also solid, with 186 total yards, making a living off a quarterback draw. Johnson said he was able to utilize the play because Newman Smith's defense had wide formations.
Johnson said Longview's offensive line played one of its best games of this season. This included a clutch performance by reserve Tommy Bell, who filled in for all-state candidate Bryce Redman after Redman suffered a left-ankle injury in the first quarter. Redman returned in the fourth.
"The only different I noticed is size, because Tommy is not as big as Bryce," Johnson said. "Tommy stayed in there and held his ground real good."
After Hunt's touchdown, Newman Smith drove 88 yards for a touchdown, capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Aldo Quiroga to Terrell Wilson, followed by a 13yard two-point conversion pass from Quiroga to Lasker. Quiroga finished with 245 total yards and accounted of call three Newman Smith touchdowns.
Longview drove within field-goal range on its ensuing drive, but a 37-yard attempt by Kyle Jenkins with 11:17 remaining was wide right. Newman Smith kept their last drive alive when Wilson threw a 12-yard pass to Randall Joyner on a fourth-and-seven play out of a punt formation, the last time the Trojans gained yards in the game.
Longview forced Newman Smith to three plays-and-out possession to open the game. From that point, however, both teams had trouble stopping each other's offenses.
Longview marched 74 yards on its first drive, capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Carey Fortson. Newman Smith countered with its own 74-yard drive, ending with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Quiroga Lasker. Quiroga had five rushing attempts for 44 yards on that drive.
Johnson came up big on Longview's next drive, with runs of 12 and 13 yards when the Lobos had third down plays of 12 and 9 respectively. This continued with a 56-yard drive, capped by a four-yard touchdown run by McCray.
Longview tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Zach Smith recovered for Newman Smith. Quiroga connected with Wilson for 20 yards on a third-and-18 play at the Longview 43-yard line on the ensuing drive, extending it before it was finished off by a two-yard touchdown run by Quiroga, who had 158 total yards in the first half.
The Lobos converted its third consecutive touchdown drive, moving 80 yards before McCray scored on a five-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the second quarter. Johnson and LaDarrin Robertson hooked up for a 16-yard pass on a third-and-nine play to extend the drive. McCray rushed for 84 yards on 10 carries in the first half while Johnson had 114 total yards.
Newman Smith drove to the Longview four-yard line on its final drive of the first half, but on a third-and-four, Brooks broke up a Quiroga pass in the end zone. This forced the Trojans to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Ichter with 44 seconds remaining in the first half, cutting Longview's lead to 21-17 at the break.
Longview safety Joe Brown, the leading tackler for the Lobos who returned a fumble for a touchdown against Midway, left the game with an undetermined injury. He was able to walk off the field himself, but he did not return to the game.
Tickets for the Longview-Waxahachie game will go on sale at 8 a.m. Tuesday. They will be $8 each for adults, $6 each for students in advance. All tickets are $10 each at the gate on game day.