|CORSICANA - Two mighty forces worked against the Temple football team on Saturday: a strong wind and the defense of the Longview Lobos. The latter appeared to be more powerful.
The Longview defense may have played its best game of the season as it led the Lobos to a 24-3 win over Temple in a Class 5A Division II bi-district playoff before 7,000 spectators at Tiger Stadium. The Lobos held Temple to 153 total yards and a season low in points. Temple's previous low point total in a game this season was in a 20-12 win over Killeen Ellison on Oct. 27.
The Lobos also didn't have a letdown. The Lobos held a powerful DeSoto offense, which had averaged 49.7 points per game, in check in a 23-21 Longview victory on Nov. 3.
"For two weeks in a row the team defense has been our MVP," Longview head coach John King said. "No doubt."
Longview (10-1), ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press' Class 5A state poll, advances to an area playoff to face Sachse (8-3), which defeated Dallas Jesuit 49-42 in a bi-district playoff on Friday in Mesquite. The Longview-Sachse game will begin at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas.
Temple ends its season at 6-5, after a 1-9 record in 2010.
Perhaps most impressive about Longview's defense was how it contained standout Temple running back Gaylon Sanders. Sanders had rushed for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns entering Saturday's game, but he was held to a season-low 20 yards on 10 carries.
Perhaps embodying Longview's determination to stop the run was safety Corey Bartley. On one play early in the fourth quarter, Bartley tackled Sanders trying to break to the outside while appearing to be held by a blocker. Bartley had a big game, leading all players with 11 tackles.
"We knew our defense had to step up," Bartley said. "They told us the big thing was to keep him (Sanders) from breaking to the outside."
Longview's defense held ground until the Lobo offense got cooking in the third quarter, when it out-scored Temple 17-0. Longview opened the second half with a 63-yard drive, ending with a 32-yard field goal by Israel Madrid to give the Lobos a 10-3 lead with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
The next play from scrimmage was probably the one which probably ended Temple's hopes for victory. Temple quarterback Zachary Allen mishandled a handoff and Longview defensive end George Polk recovered the loose ball at the Temple 10-yard line. Tory White gave Longview a 17-3 lead on the next play with a 10-yard touchdown run on his first rush attempt of the game.
Temple took a gamble on its next drive which backfired. The Wildcats went for it on a fourth-and-six at its own 42-yard line but a pass attempt from Allen to Blake Dean was broken up by Longview safety Stephan Maxey. The Lobos took advantage with a 42-yard drive, capped by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Bivins Caraway to Colin Jeter with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Longview had just 31 yards passing, but the conservative play was partially dictated by the winds, which had gusts of up to 30 miles per hour. King said while the wind was a factor for both teams, he called the game too conservatively and should have passed more in the first half, when the Lobos had one pass attempt, which was incomplete.
This made running back J'Haston Faggans the work horse for the Lobos and he came through, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. White brought relief with 46 yards on nine carries, all in the second half.
"They told us because of the win the running backs and line would have to do their jobs," Faggans said. "I think we really got going in the third quarter."
Longview caught a break to score on a touchdown on its first drive of the game.
On the first play from scrimmage a bad snap forced the Temple to eat a 25-yard loss, pinning the Wildcats at their own two-yard line. This helped Longview start its first drive on the Temple 43-yard line and the Lobos would cash in with a five-yard touchdown run by Faggans with 4:18 left in the first quarter. The drive was extended by a five-yard run by Caraway on a fourth-and-four play at the Temple 23-yard line.
That would be the lone touchdown in the first half. While Faggans had 71 yards rushing on 17 carries in the first half, the rest of the Lobos had 16 yards combined. Longview had the ball at the Temple 41-yard line with 3:12 left in the first half, but a mishandled handoff was recovered by Temple linebacker Seth Culp.
The Lobos held Temple to 54 yards in the first half. Temple got in the red zone once in the first half, coming away with a 33-yard field goal by Joseph Pickett with 5:38 left in the second quarter for all of Temple's first-half points. Pickett also had a 40-yard attempt with 10:47 left in the second quarter, but his attempt went wide right. A standout punter, Pickett averaged 46.8 yards four punts, two into the wind. Pickett had two punts of 50 yards or longer.
Longview successfully executed a risky play to preserve a 7-3 lead. Longview faced a fourth-and-one on its own 10 yard line with 33 seconds left in the first half. Rather than punt into the wind, which produced a 17-yard punt on an earlier possession, the Lobos went for the first down and Faggans gained two yards.
"With the wind Temple could have got the ball back with a short field anyway," King said. "I felt like we could get a first down, and if we did that, Temple couldn't score. It was a staff decision."
Bartley had a big first half making six tackles, including a tackle of Temple receiver Antonio Barrow in the first half on a reverse which limited Barrow to three yards. If Barrow hadn't made the tackle, Barrow appeared to have a shot at a 29-yard touchdown run. Jordan Burton and Stephan Maxey had six tackles each for Longview. Burton and Larry Thomas had two tackles for losses each for the Lobos, which had seven tackles for losses as a team with four sacks.
Allen had 151 total yards of offense for Temple, leading his team with 69 yards rushing on 15 carries. Culp had four tackles for Temple in the first half. Brandon Sapp led Temple with seven tackles for the game while Culp had six tackles.