|LONGVIEW - During the Lobo-Maverick game Friday night, the Longview drill team performed a dance number at halftime, using red scarves for props. The routine ended with a flourish, each girl swooping her scarf down and up into an upright position. They locked their elbows, and the scarves fluttered high in the breeze.
One could expect, with a drop of a scarf, a volley from a firing squad.
But the one thing the citizens of Longview did not need was an executioner. Their football team, the Lobos, simply blanked Marshall with a 16-0 shutout.
The Lobos used an aggressive defense, splendid first-half field position and deployed 12 running backs to wear down the Mavericks.
"They were much more physical," said Marshall head coach Jim Stroud afterward. "All you can say is, they whipped us.
"They're a sound football team. You're not going to fool them. They're just the best football team we've seen this year."
Actually, the field position predicament could have been the turning point of the game. Both teams suffered from careless play in the first quarter as the ball was fumbled four times and intercepted once.
The difference was, the turnovers occurred on the Marshall side of he field. Longview mounted first-half scoring drives of 38, 29 and 69 yards.
The Lobos went into halftime with their 16-0 final score. Marshall never even got a close look at the Longview goal posts. But the opportunity to do so came later in the second half.
Glenn Collier recovered a Marshall fumble on the Maverick's 38-yard line to set up the first score. Six different Lobo runners moved the ball down inside the 10-yard line. But on third and goal from the 8, Marshall's Teddy Richardson and Ira Valentine brought down Lobo quarterback Zane Butter on a keeper play.
Placekicker Nathan Harris then booted a 16-yard field goal to give the Lobos a 3-0 lead with 29 seconds remaining in the opening period.
At the beginning of the second period, weak safety Tony Duckett intercepted a Maverick pass and returned it to the Marshall 29-yard line. Six plays later, Butter scored from 2 yards out.
The Lobos regained possession of the football with 6:07 left in the half, marching 69 yards in nine plays. Tailback Ronnie Hunter started it, picking up 23 yards in three carries. Fullback Gahlen Johnson burst 33 yards on a draw for a touchdown with two minutes left. Harris was good on his earlier point after try, but he missed his second attempted.
"In the first half, they beat us with field position," said Stroud. "We ourselves created that position. But in the second half, we were able to kick it down, and they had to move on us."
The second half was primarily a punting contest between Longview's Scott Dillard and Marshall's David Scrivener as both team's defenses stiffened.
But the Mavericks' offensive backfield, consisting of quarterback Willie Jones, running backs Ronald Branch-Watkins and Keith Hawkins, did find more to maneuver in the second half, crossing mid-field three times.
The best shot at a score came midway through the fourth period, when the Mavericks earned a first and 10 at the Longview 37-yard line.
Three pass incompletions and a penalty stopped the Maverick threat.
Stroud complimented the Marshall effort.
"I think the kids never quit. They did all they could," he said. "I thought we did a good job since it was the first time we played a good ball team."
It was the Mavericks' third consecutive loss, but it was also the first loss where the victor outgunned Marshall statistically. Longview finished with 284 yards on the ground compared with Marshall's 111 yards. Neither team completed a pass.
Marshall will host Pine Tree next before wrapping up the season against Texarkana at Texas High School. After the Longview loss, the Mavericks own 5-3 season, 2-3 in district. Longview host John Tyler before wrapping up against Pine Tree at Pirate Stadium. The Lobos improved to 6-2 overall, 4-1 in district.