|TYLER - Forty-eight minutes were required to tick off the clock, but it took only 13 seconds in a incredible turn of events late in the fourth quarter to decide the District 14-AAAAA championships here Friday night. And when the pendulum made its last swing, it was in favor of John Tyler.
The Lions, seemingly only 2 1/2 minutes away from defeat, relied on William Oliver's arm, as they had all night long, and the big-play efforts of Willie Walker, who wore three different jersey numbers in the wild affair, to pull out a 19-10 triumph over the Longview Lobos.
The Lions have now earned a berth in the state playoffs which begin in two weeks.
The Lobos, holding a 10-6 lead, came up with a fumble recovery at the John Tyler 18 with just 5:04 remaining in the game. Just when it seemed the nail was being driven into the Lions' coffin, the hammer missed its mark.
Longview's Gahlen Johnson, on a first-and-goal at the John Tyler seven, was hit hard and the ball popped loose and was finally corralled back at the 11 by the Lions' Mark Manning.
Thirteen seconds later, thanks to the Oliver-Walker connection, the momentum was on the other side of the field. Oliver, who passed for 291 yards in his aerial performance, hit Walker near the 35 and he broke one tackle and sped the rest of the way to the end zone untouched for a 12-10 advantage with 2:24 left in the game.
A second bad snap in as many tries, but the Lions came up with another big defensive play just moments later and celebrated their win, the eighth in a row and their first league title since 1978.
John Tyler's victory also avenged a 21-6 loss at the hands of Longview last year and kept the Lobos from defending their crown.
John Tyler is 8-1 and undefeated in six district games with Tyler Lee the regular season finale next week. Longview is 7-2 and 4-2 with cross-town rival Pine Tree left to play.
"I'm not one to come out passing, I'm known as a pretty conservative coach," said a remarkable calm Bill Parks moments after the game. "But we just didn't think Longview would contain our speed. I never worried for a minute we could win, never."
Oliver, who started at Tyler Lee two years ago as a sophomore, took some lumps in the game and finished with just minus two yards on 19 carries but he more than made up for it with his aerial antics, hitting eight of 14, including his first five, to keep Longview off balance most of the evening.
Walker, who wore numbers 9, 30, and 86, in an attempt to trick the Lobos, made the most of every opportunity, catching three passes for 188 yards, one going for 74 yards and a score and the 89-yarder.
Longview had scored on a pass play of its own, Kenny Frazier to tight end Tony Kindle for the 11-yard line, with 5:24 left in the game to take a 10-6 lead. And on the second play from scrimmage on John Tyler's ensuing possession, Marques Jackson forced a fumble and Pat Collier fell on it at the Lion 18. The drive, which would have sealed John Tyler's fate, ended with Johnson's fumble five plays later and Oliver took over.
When Longview got the ball back, now behind by two, Frazier went back to the air with 2:18 left with which to work. his first pass went for five yards to terry Morrow, his second was broke up and his third was just over the outstretched hands of Morrow deep in Lion territory. Then, on a fourth-and-five at his own 45, Frazier's toss was tipped and intercepted by Greg Buckner who returned it 14 yards to the 22, where an 11-yard personal foul penalty was tacked on, moving the ball to the Longview 11.
Oliver, who had fallen down in an apparent attempt to run time off the clock on third down, swept his left end for the final five yards and the final touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game. Williams converted his first point after of the night for the all-important nine-point margin and the victory.
The Lobos scored on their first possession of the game, climaxing a 15-play, 67-yard drive on the first play of the second quarter with a 31-yard Jessie Floyd field goal.
John Tyler, ironically, had missed a 31-yard effort on its initial possession.
Although there was a pair of turnovers and several big individual plays, the half ended with the 3-0 score.
John Tyler came away empty handed, despite driving into Longview territory three more times, each time being thwarted on fourth-down efforts by the "Mean Green" defense.
Scott Dillard got off a booming 59-yard punt to pin the Lions back at their own 10 early in the third quarter, but it took Oliver just four plays to cover the necessary real estate, the final 74 coming from Walker, giving the home team a 6-3 lead with 7:16 remaining in the period.
Ronnie Hunter, who was the game's leading rusher with 126 yards on 26 carries, fumbled on the first play of the final quarter, which seemed to halt a Lobo scoring bid at the John Tyler 17, but four plays later Ken Jordan picked off an Oliver pass and returned it nine yards to the 34.
Frazier hit Kindle to cap an eight-play drive, five of which were Hunter carries, to boost Longview back into the lead, 10-6.
The game had been mild up to that point.
John Tyler came into the game averaging 193 yards rushing but was held to a meager 26 by the Lobo defense, and minus 14 in the first half. Hunter got the bulk of the Lobos' rushing yardage and Frazier hit four of 13 passes for 42 yards. Oliver's 291 passing yards, though, left the Lions holding a 317-109 total yardage.
Johnson, the Lobos' leading rusher, finished the night with just 30 on 12 carries.