TYLER - Little Bobby Watkins supplied most of the firepower Friday night as the red-hot John Tyler Lions exploded for a 17-0 halftime lead and then fought off a spirited bid in the last half to gain a 24-6 win over the Longview Lobos in a District 8-AAAA battle at Rose Stadium.
Watkins thrilled the chilled crowd with runs of 12, 18, 54 and 17 yards in racking up 109 yards to pace the Lion offensive attack. Star backs Randy Wilson and James Wakefield were bottled up most of the night by the rugged Lobo offensive line with Wilson getting only 30 yards and Wakefield 31 yards.
The crucial win enabled the Blue and White to remain in a tie for first place in the torrid 8-AAAA title race, along with Lufkin, which stomped Tyler Lee by 26-8, and Texarkana, which tripped Marshall 25-12.
Watkins sparked an early Lion drive which carried to the Lobo 18 before bogging down. A short time later, the Lobos punted to the Lion 30 and Watkins brought the fans to their feet on the first play as h broke loose right up the middle and dashed 54 yards to the Lobo 16.
Wilson moved the ball to the three in three carries and Wakefield bucked over for the touchdown with 3:45 left in the first period. Wilson kicked the extra point to make it 7-0.
Seconds later, the Lobos lost a fumble on the 27 with Horace Johnson getting the ball. A run of 11 yards by Robert Caldwell carried to the one yard line and Wilson hit left guard for the touchdown. Audie Long passed to Wilson of the conversion to make it 15-0 with ten seconds left in the first quarter.
Longview received and failed to move in three downs and Robert Myers went back to punt from the Lobo 11 yard line. The snap from center sailed over his head and completely out of the end zone for a safety to give the Lions a 17-0 bulge.
Longview drove to the John Tyler 11 yard line shortly before the half but Elmo Malone intercepted a pass from Dick Curry to kill the threat.
The Lobos came back fired up after the half and completely dominated the third quarter as the Lions ran only eight plays from scrimmage.
Longview started a march from its own 42 late in the third period and scored with 10:10 left in the game as Paul Ketchum plunged over from the one yard line. A pass from Curry was batted down in the end zone by Algie Allen on the conversion try.
John Tyler took the ensuing kickoff and marched 58 yards to pay dirt with the big play being a 17-yard romp by Watkins to the Lobo 38. Long passed to George Wilmot, who was all alone in the end zone, for eight yards and the touchdown. Wilson kicked the extra point to make it 24-6 with seven minutes left in the game.
Neither team threatened the rest of the way as both coaches emptied their benches to allow everybody to play.
Strangely enough, the Lobos gained more first downs than the Lions, 15 to 11.
John Tyler gained 108 yards rushing to 181 for the Lobos. The Lions went to the air only seven times and completed two for 11 yards. Longview passed 2 times and connected on nine for 78 yards.
The Lions close out their regular season next week in Marshall and can clinch a tie of the district championship with a win. Longview plays host to Lufkin.