|DALLAS - The path to a third consecutive state championship game for the Longview Lobos was blocked on Saturday.
The conclusion of the 2010 season for the Lobos came on a 28-27 defeat to Denton Guyer in a Class 5A Division II state semifinal at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium. The end came in stunning fashion.
Guyer's Dan Kottman blocked a Kyle Jenkins punt with 17 seconds remaining, and Kamrhan Jones recovered the loose ball at the Longview 15-yard line for the Wildcats. On the next play, Guyer quarterback J.W. Walsh threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Quint Gardener to put Guyer ahead with 10 seconds remaining.
"I feel numb," Longview head coach John King said. "This is the number one most painful loss of my career."
Longview (10-5) falls just short of advancing to a state-title contest for the third consecutive year, after previously making it to Class 4A Division I state finals in 2008 and 2009. Guyer (13-2) advances to its first state championship game, playing Cibolo Steele or Houston Memorial at 4 p.m. next Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Guyer lost to Longview in the state-semifinal round in 2008 and 2009.
"Getting revenge was a small part to get past the losses we had to them before, but the main motivation was to get to the state championship game, whether we played Mesquite Horn or Longview," said Walsh, referring to last week's Region II final.
Longview had one final play from scrimmage with six seconds remaining, but quarterback LaDarrin Robertson's desperation pass was intercepted by Gardener at the Guyer 45-yard line as time expired.
Helped by five Guyer turnovers, Longview built a 17-0 halftime lead, but led by Walsh - who has verbally committed to Oklahoma State - the Wildcats played error-free football in the second half.
Guyer opened the second half with an 80-yard drive, capped by a 26-yard touchdown run by Walsh with 9:37 remaining in the third quarter. The drive was extended by a 46-yard pass from Walsh to Gardener on a third-and-10 play.
The Lobos countered with a 39-yard field goal by Jenkins, but Guyer struck back with another 80-yard drive ending with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Walsh to fellow Oklahoma State commit Josh Stewart, who made a difficult catch on his knees with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter.
The Lobos appeared to take control of the game back early in the fourth quarter, as a 24-yard kickoff return by Shannon Polk set up a 49-yard drive, capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Deontre Wilson. Wilson easily had the game of his Longview career, rushing for 100 yards on 12 carries, the first time Guyer has allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. A junior fullback who played sparingly before tailback J'Haston Faggans suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Tomball two weeks ago - and regular fullback Dakota Anthony was moved to tailback - Wilson had rushed for 35 yards this season entering Saturday's game.
"I have to give it up for my offensive line. They made it happen," Wilson said. "I'm a little hurt right now, but we're going to be all right."
After Wilson's touchdown, Gardener returned a kickoff 49 yards to Longview 46-yard line, eventually setting up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Walsh to Gardener with 5:51 left in the fourth quarter. This scoring drive was extended by a six-yard pass from Walsh to Stewart on a fourth-and-five play as well as an 11-yard scramble by Walsh on a fourth-and-11 play.
"The long play on the third-and-10 on Guyer's first drive in the second half and the fourth-and-11 conversion were big," King said.
In the first half, the Lobos became the first team to hold Guyer scoreless in a half this season.
Longview marched 70 yards on the game's opening drive, capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from Robertson to Wilson. The pass was short, but Wilson made the catch lying down on his stomach.
The first turnover Longview forced may have been the most critical for early momentum. Guyer running back Treavon Walton broke free and was on his way to a 31-yard touchdown run, but at the one-yard line, Longview safety Joe Brown forced Walton to fumble and the ball bounced out of the end zone for a touchback.
Walton fumbled again at the Guyer 32-yard line with 23 seconds remaining in the first quarter and Thomas Jones recovered for Longview. This set up Jenkins for a 36-yard field goal, but his attempt went just right.
Guyer's next drive ended with JaQuale Darden intercepting Walsh at the Longview 24-yard line with 6:46 left in the second quarter. After a Longview punt, in which a post-play scuffle led to the ejection of two Longview players and one Guyer player, Longview cornerback Brian Tomlinson forced Walsh to fumble and Jordan Burton recovered for Longview. This set up a 69-yard touchdown pass from Robertson to Eric Hawkins with 3:50 left in the second quarter.
Guyer's fifth turnover was Brown intercepting a Walsh pass with 2:02 remaining in the first half. The Guyer quarterback had thrown two interceptions for the season coming into Saturday's game. Brown's pick set up Jenkins, who took advantage of a strong, north wind to nail a career-long 55-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the first half.
Robertson had 138 total yards of offense in the first half and his touchdown pass to Wilson was his first since Longview played Tyler Lee on Oct. 29. Robertson, a Texas Tech commit, had 168 total yards of offense in his Longview swan song. Also playing his final game for Longview, Brown led the Lobos with seven tackles and forced two fumbles.
Walsh had 117 total yards of offense in the first half. Guyer linebacker Blake Terry led all players with 10 tackles.
The Lobos conclude a season in which they expected to take a step back from back-to-back state-title games, being predicted to finish behind DeSoto in District 11-5A in the preseason by Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine. Despite sharing the 11-5A title and being the seventh Longview team to advance to the state semifinals, King said the Lobos were not overachieving and simply took advantage of the opportunities in front of them.
"We had faith in God and we had faith in each other," Anthony said.
With standouts such as Burton, DeMarkus Lathan, Jalen Porter, Cornelius Williams and Faggans returning next year - as well as promising sub-varsity programs - Anthony said Longview teams in the near future could get back to the state semifinals, or further next year, although King downplayed expectations.
"Every year is a new year ... and it starts on Monday," King said.