|LONGVIEW - During pre game warmups Friday night, Longview juniors Wes McWhorter and Steve Blashke went through their normal kicking routines without much fanfare. And it was only after defensive coordinator Don Johnson watched Blashke boot one over the track at Lobo Stadium that he decided if the opportunity for a field goal ever came up against state-ranked Texas High, Blashke would be the one to do it.
"McWhorter and Blashke are both exceptional kickers and whichever one gets hot usually determines which one we'll go with," Johnson admitted. "It just happened that Steve was hot."
Johnson's description of Blashke could be considered an understatement, especially after the untried kicker came on to boot a 23-yarder with just 25 seconds left in the game to break a 7-7 deadlock and power the Lobos to a 10-7 upset over the previously undefeated Tigers.
The win not only avenged back-to-back losses to Texas High the last two years but also threw the 13-AAAAA race into an eight-way tie.
Defensive gems by both sides made an eventual tie seems apparent after Texas High had struck quickly on a 77-yard scamper by running back Scott Works on the second play of the second half to tie the game.
Longview had taken a 7-0 second quarter lead following a 70-yard drive that consumed 11 plays with workhorse Fred Hunter stepping off the final 10 yards on a pitchout around left end.
Following Works' jaunt, the Lobos retaliated with their second sustained drive of the night, working the ball from their own 20 down to the Tiger 14 in seven plays highlighted by a picture-perfect 39-yard scamper by fullback Kenny Hendrix on a delayed handoff from quarterback Henry Shaw. Then on second and six from the 14, Shaw never got the snap from center and Tiger linebacker John Jean was there to make the recovery to end the threat.
Later on in the half, Texas High saw its opportunity to make the lead go sour after recovering a Hunter fumble near midfield. Seven plays later, the Tigers set up shop at the Lobo 10 with a first down following Tracy Holmes' 22-yard run. Holmes tried to go over the top on the next play and lost the handle, with Longview linebacker Eddie Barbe on the scene to make the recovery.
Blashke's field goal was set up by some powerful running by Hunter, who finished the night with his best effort ever, 162 yards on 29 carries. Hunter carried five times in the drive with gains of 10 and 22 yards to his credit.
Texas High's loss marked the fifth time this year that a 5A team had broke into the Associated Press top 10 at No. 10 only to suffer a setback the following week.
Longview was in a similar position as the state's 10th-ranked team three weeks ago and bowed to Abilene in its final predistrict clash.
Asked if he'd like to get back into the top 10, Lobo head coach Doug Cox replied with a smile, "No thank you."
Texas High had a chance to get on the board late in the first half after moving the ball from their own 41 down to the Lobo six, aided by a 34-yard pass from quarterback Chris Young to Holmes. With time running out, Young dropped back and hit Holmes again with a 12-yard completion but the gun sounded before Jimmy Phillips had connected on a 23-yard field goal.