LONGVIEW - Starting the season against two formidable opponents in Lufkin and John Tyler, the start to the season was going to be a true test for an inexperienced Lobo team.
In those two starts, however, it hasn't been the Panthers or the Lions that have presented the biggest issues for Longview, it's been the Lobos themselves.
Trailing 14-10 with just over four minutes left in the half, the second-ranked Lions pushed that margin to 21-10 before a third quarter full of miscues led to a 41-25 win for John Tyler on Friday night at Lobo Stadium.
An off-the-field incident led to a number of Lobos on both sides of the ball being suspended for the 88th meeting between the two rivals. That led to an inspired performance both ways for the Lobos on Friday.
"The only thing that concerns me is the 0-2 start and some health issues," Longview head coach John King said. "I was proud of the effort we got out of our young men tonight - a true Lobo effort.
"They played with a lot of heart, a lot of effort and they came up short."
On paper, it was a close as can be with the Lions holding a mere 3-yard margin over the Lobos (0-2) on offense, 378 to 375.
The difference, however, was a big one in three lost fumbles and an interception that resulted in points for a potent Lion offensive attack.
The Lobo defense stalled a Lion march near midfield before an interception put the ball back in the Lions' hands with 2:01 left until the break. Three plays later, the Lions were in the end zone to take an 11-point lead into halftime. The drive was set up by a 47-yard pass from Geovari McCollister, who led the Lions with 281 yards of total offense on 10-for-13 passing and 66 yards on the ground.
Longview took the ball to open the second half and constructed a promising drive before the first of two costly third-quarter fumbles led to 13 points for a Lion team that first sent its offense to the field at the 1:25 mark in the third quarter, enough of a margin for John Tyler to move to 2-0 on the young season.
The game started well for Longview with Jakoriyan Walker hauling in his first interception of the season on the Lions' first possession. That led to a 33-yard field goal for Andres Perez to give Longview a quick 3-0 lead.
Longview's Stacy Nelson then scooped up a Lion fumble on the ensuing possession but a potent defense held the Lobo offense to a quick three-and-out and two plays later, the Lions took the lead for good on a 59-yard touchdown pass from McCollister to Nick Cain.
Sophomore running back D'Crayvan Polk had 38 yards on an 11-play, 82-yard scoring march from Longview to pull the Lobos to within four points. Polk, along with fellow Sophomore Traveion Webster accounted for nearly 100 yards of offense for the Lobos.
The rest came from senior fullback Marquies Hunter, who rumbled for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Lobos amassed 253 yards on the ground. Senior Dezmein Dennis added 89 yards to that total.
"I thought all four running backs did good tonight," King said. "It was a mixed bunch of plays that we had with that group, trying to do things that would fit their strengths.
"Marquies had a heck of a game. He really played his heart out. He ran the ball well, protected and blocked and you couldn't have asked for a better effort from a young man. All four of them did well tonight."
Hunter's first touchdown of the night, coming at the 1:34 mark in the third quarter, was on a 23-yard scoring run, set up by a 26-yard rumble of his own and 33 yards from Dennis.
John Tyler's offense took the field for the first time and quick answered with a five-play, 66-yard score.
Hunter's second score, set up by a Khalil Williams interception, was on an eight-yard jaunt late in the fourth quarter.
Longview returns to action next Saturday facing Neville (La.) at 8 p.m. in Shreveport's Independence Stadium in the Battle on the Border Showcase.