|LONGVIEW - It's been a tough year at times for Longview.
But the Lobos ended the regular season on a positive note Friday, dominating Rockwall 40-7 in a Senior Night win that clinched the district's top Division II seed.
Longview led 37-0 at halftime and held Rockwall to 188 yards of offense in picking up its third consecutive win. The Lobos ensured they enter the playoffs on a high note after a season that included key injuries and the most district losses in coach John King's nine seasons.
"Real happy for our guys," King said. "I think it just speaks about their pride of being a Lobo football player. We wanted to get things right and be in the playoffs and we did. I thought our defense set the tone early."
The Lobos had 249 of their 287 yards of offense in the first half. They didn't score on their first possession, but put points on the scoreboard their next five drives and got a 43-yard punt return for a touchdown from senior Nakia Brown.
Senior safety Corey Bartley's sixth interception of the season led to Tory White's 2-yard touchdown run, which gave Longview a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Bartley and the defense have not allowed a touchdown in the last three games.
"That was a big play by Corey," King said. "He was just reading his keys, zeroing in and knowing where they were going with the ball. We came out sputtering on offense on the first series, then the defense got the turnover, we scored and here it goes.
"We got things going on offense, shut down their running game and made them do things they're not effective doing."
Longview held Rockwall Sophomore running back Chris Warren, the district's leading rusher, to 21 yards on 11 carries. He entered the night averaging 114.4 yards per game.
Lobos Sophomore JaMycal Hasty broke a 50-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 14-0 late in the first quarter, cutting across the field and outracing the Rockwall defense for the score. White's 1-yard run stretched the lead to 21-0 early in the second quarter.
White finished the night with 52 yards and two scores on nine carries one week after missing the Tyler Lee game because of a concussion.
"He did fine," King said. "When it got to 28-0 I told them, 'Let's pull him.' We don't need another injury. So we felt we had the game in hand and were confident in the other running backs and the performance they had last week."
Longview increased its lead to 28-0 on quarterback Dezmond Chumley's 29-yard touchdown pass to Justinn Spady, then struck again on Brown's punt return, his third return for a score this season.
Brown fielded the ball and raced down the sideline to the end zone after the ball hit a Rockwall player and players from both teams watched it roll on the ground.
"I was probably five yards on the field because I thought the play was dead," King said. "I had my head turned calling for the offensive personnel and there he goes. Heads-up play.
Following the score, Brown and several teammates ran to the fence below the scoreboard and briefly gathered around a sign for Cristian Monreal, the Longview senior soccer player who was killed in a car accident on Wednesday.
"I thought that was great," King said. "Can't get mad at them for that. It's been an emotional week for all our kids, particularly our seniors. That was a bad turn of events Wednesday. It's hard to imagine what those kids are going through, but you feel for the whole student body and the families involved. We had an emotional day today at the pep rally."
Andres Perez pushed the lead to 37-0 with a 40-yard field goal late in the first half. Longview added a field goal in the fourth quarter, then Rockwall got its only score when Daniel Roland picked up a bad pitch and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown with 3:51 left in the game.
Longview will play Rowlett (4-6) at either 4 or 6 p.m. in a bi-district game next Saturday at Kincaide Stadium.
"We're pretty fortunate to be a one seed with how our district race went," King said. "But it's a week-to-week season now and whether you're a one seed or a two seed, everyone's got the same opportunity."