|MESQUITE - Longview met Denton Ryan for the third time in 11 months, and Saturday's meeting was the second Class 5A Division I Region II semifinal battle between the two teams at Mesquite Memorial Stadium during that stretch.
The Lobos fought until the end - finishing Saturday's game on a late 19-3 run - but they suffered a 37-33 season-ending defeat. Longview finishes the 2021 season with a 9-4 record, and drops to 0-3 all-time against the Raiders, who improve their season record to 12-1 and advance to next week's regional final against College Station.
"It's heartbreaking and it stings, but it should because it means something," said Longview athletic director and head football coach John King. "They showed resiliency and kept fighting. There were times where we didn't make plays that might've affected the outcome of the game."
The Lobos recorded the first score of the game to take an early 7-0 lead at the 5:28 mark of the first period. That occurred on Taylor Tatum's nine-yard touchdown run.
Tatum finished the game with six carries for 36 yards and a score.
Then, the Raiders answered with back-to-back scores to take their first advantage of the game. Khalon Davis found MarQuice Hill on an 18-yard touchdown connection to make it a 7-7 game with 2:03 left in the opening quarter.
Davis finished the day with a 15-of-30 passing performance for 239 yards and a triplet of scores.
Then, Anthony Hill snuck in the end zone on a four-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-7 Denton Ryan lead at the 6:58 mark of the second period.
Joshua Thomas moved Longview's offense all the way to the red zone on the following Lobo possession, but was unable to tie the score before halftime. He picked up a crucial 12-yard fourth down run, but threw an interception on the following play.
Denton Ryan took advantage of the turnover, and drove down the field to grow its lead before halftime. Clayton Roblyer successfully completed a 20-yard pass to Hill on a fake punt attempt, and then nailed a 20-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
The second half began with another Thomas turnover. His fumble on the first offensive play of the third quarter set up Roblyer's 24-yard field goal, which expanded Denton Ryan's lead to 20-7 with 10:55 left in the period.
Longview's defense came up big with a forced Denton Ryan fumble at the 6:45 mark of the period, and took advantage of the starting field position at the Denton Ryan 31-yard line. Five plays later, Thomas found Jalen Hale on a nine-yard touchdown strike to cut the Raiders' lead to 20-14 with five minutes left in the frame.
"It was a big play," King said of his team's fumble recovery. "It gave us short grass, we got a touchdown out of it, and it helped close the gap, so it was a play we needed."
Thomas finished the contest with a 13-of-26 passing performance for 239 yards and a trio of touchdowns. He also carried the ball 19 times for 46 yards and a score.
Hale caught six of Thomas' passes for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Denton Ryan quickly answered with Khalon Davis' 50-yard touchdown pass to Austin Jordan to make it a 27-14 game at the 3:32 mark of the third.
Davis then added a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jordan to make it a 34-14 game with 1:50 left in the period.
Longview saved its best for last though. Hale's 58-yard reception moved the Lobos to the Raiders' four-yard line. Then, two plays later, Thomas scored on a four-yard touchdown run to make it a 34-21 game with 45 seconds left in the third.
The Lobos even bounced back from Roblyer's 36-yard fourth quarter field goal with Thomas' 24-yard touchdown pass to DeKalon Taylor at the 6:52 mark of the fourth. Thomas then followed that with a 32-yard aerial toss to Hale with 3:30 left in the game.
Taylor finished the afternoon with 37 yards and a score on a pair of catches.
Longview was unsuccessful on the two-point conversion and extra point attempts after its last two scores, so those touchdowns only made it a 37-33 game late.
That was also as close as the Lobos would come in their attempt to erase a 20-point second half deficit.