TYLER - While a crowd of nearly 10,000 looked on in frank admiration and amazement, the battered and crippled Longview Lobos fought the high-powered Tyler Lions off their feet for three quarters in Tyler Friday night, but the co-leaders in the District 11-AA race finally wore the gallant Wolfpack down in the last quarter and pushed over a pair of touchdowns to annex a grueling 14-0 decision and remain undefeated in the conference chase.
Until the fourth quarter, Tyler was completely stymied as the Lobos rose with the might of a wounded tiger to baffle the Lions with a rock-ribbed defense that time and again surged forth to stifle the versatile attack of the Smith county eleven.
At the end of the encounter there wasn't a single fan in the packed stadium who doubted that the Lions, although they clearly earned the decision, were lucky to escape with a victory of any kind, for the embattled Lobos outfought, outscrapped and outmaneuvered - but did not outplay - Tyler at every turn.
And even in defeat the Lobos had one player, rugged Don Menasco, 165-pound center, who towered head and shoulders above every other performer on the field. Seldom in the annals of District 11-AA football has any lineman given a more sensational account of himself than did the slender Longview pivot man.
Menasco was an all-state lineman Friday night if there ever was one, for he ripped the Tyler forward wall to shreds as he stalked up and down the field like a raging mad man to down ball carriers with resounding tackles, run them down from behind, stack up the interference and backed up the line in magnificent fashion.
On one occasion he even knocked down two would be blockers who tried to carry him out of a play and shoved them into the ball carrier to also bring the ball carrier down.
Menasco's brilliant play earned for him the plaudits of even the most partisan Tyler fans. Toward the end of the gam, Menasco was so tired that it was visible an effort for him to get to his feet after making a tackle, but he continued to drive with the force of a freight train right up to the final whistle.
the Lobos, playing without the services of their ace tailback, speed merchant Johnny Rogerson, were never able to get their offensive attack to clicking. Rogerson carried the ball on only one play, gaining nine yards, but reinsured his hip and was forced to leave the field.
James (Amy) Rogers bore the brunt of what offense the locals were able to produce and twice nearly shook loose for touchdowns.
Just before the end of the first half Rogers electrified the huge crowd when, with the ball resting on Longview's six marker, he backed up behind the goal in punt formation but intend of kicking he swept around left end, reversed his field, broke into the open and raced 39 yards to his own 45-yard line before safety man Julian Ray, the last tyler player between Rogers and the goal line, made a leaping tackle and missed but grabbed Rogers' leg with one hand just long enough o cause him to lose his footing.
After putting up a spirited fight for the first three periods during which they apparently wore themselves down, the Lobo tired badly in the last quarter and the vaunted Tyler offense, with Danny Fenn, Layden Hitchcock and finally Paul Beckham, who shifted from tackle to the backfield, leading the way, at last got to rolling.
With Hitchcock and Beckham alternating the ball carrying duties, the Lions marched 65 yards early in the fourth quarter for a well-deserved touchdown. Wingman Billy Porter registered the score when he scampered 20 yards through tackle on an end-around play and then placekicked the extra point.
With less than five minutes of play remaining Tyler struck again, this time on a 51-yard downfield march on which Fenn circled right end for a touchdown from the three-yard stripe. Porter again converted from placement to conclude the scoring.