TYLER - Steve Blaschke doesn't spend much time on the football field but when he's out there, his time has been well spent.
For the second time this season, Lobo head coach Doug Cox called on the junior kicker in the final seconds to attempt to salvage a victory. And for the second time, Blaschke handled the pressure like a seasoned veteran, tacking on a 42-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the game to give Longview an 18-15 come from behind victory over John Tyler Friday night.
It was Blaschke's second game-winning field goal of the season (a 23-yarder with 25 seconds to play beat Texas High earlier this season, 10-7) and was the longest of the year for Longview.
The winning kick was set up by a 50-yard, 11-play drive that consumed almost four minutes and came after the Lobos had rallied from a 15-0 defecit late in the third period.
The win, combined with Nacogdoches' 25-12 win over Pine Tree, gives the Lobos outright possession of second place in 13-AAAAA and a Longview win over Pine Tree in the district finale next Friday would assume them of a playoff berth as the league's runner-up team behind Nacogdoches.
However, that lofty position was in doubt up until Blaschke's kick against a fired up John Tyler offense, led by junior tailback Dale Dixon.
Dixon paced the Lions to two first half touchdowns on his way to 111 yards rushing by intermission. On the opening series of the game, Dixon carried the ball 11 times, picking up three first downs on third down to keep the drive alive, and netted 27 yards including a four-yard dive with 4:32 left in the quarter for the initial touchdown of the game.
Dixon wasted no time in putting the Lions in scoring range again with a 26-yar drive play that he broke into the secondary up to midfield, aided by a face mask penalty. John Tyler quarterback Kelvin Warren then broke an 18-yarder to set up Dixon's second touchdown of the game, a five-yarder with 6:28 to go in the first. The two-point conversion run by Dixon was stopped short, making it 12-0.
Once more, the Lobos attempted to mount an assault, with tailback Fred Hunter breaking Longview's patented power sweep for gains of 13 and seven yards before another Shaw to Centers pass attempt was picked off again, this time by speedster Willie Walker.
And once again, John Tyler drove the ball right into the heart of the Lobo defense, with Dixon picking up big gains of 10, eight and 11 and 13 more on a screen pass. With time running short, the Lions lined up a 24-yard field goal with Cantrell clearing the crossbar with no time showing to give John Tyler a comfortable 15-0 advantage.
But the perfect evening finally ended late in the third period when Dixon was hit hard by defensive end Lee Williams at midfield, forcing John Tyler's first turnover with John Northcutt on hand to make the recovery.
It took the Lobos just five plays to cover 51 yard, and very little time for Hunter to step off the last 37 all in one fatal blast around left end. Hunter then tacked on the two-point run to put Longview back in the game, 15-8, with 32 seconds to go in the third quarter.
A stunned Lion offense watched the tide turn around completely just two minutes later when a Warren to Cantrell reception was fumbled at the John Tyler 41 with Centers making the recovery to set up the tying touchdown.
On the second play from scrimmage following a five-yard loss, Kenneth Hendrix followed Centers up the middle and brooke loose for 21 yards to the John Tyler 25, and four plays later, Shaw hit tight end Marlin Myers on a slant play across the middle for 19 yards and pay dirt. Blaschke then came on to tackle on the tying PAT with 7:01 to go in the game.
Hunter wound up with 103 yards on the night on 321 carries, giving him 884 for the season.