|TYLER - Using senior tailback Joe Johnson was a battering ram and getting a stellar performance from their defense, the Longview Lobos dominated John Tyler here Friday night at Rose Stadium to capture a 21-7 victory.
Even though Johnson was pounding out 183 yards on 42 tries and the defense was holding John Tyler to just 124 yards, 24 rushing, it was a pair of sideline calls in the fourth quarter that made the difference.
It is said close games are won on the sidelines, so it's not surprising both calls, one by John Tyler boss Jimmy Franklin and the other by Longview coach Doug Cox, ended in the Lobo's favor.
Although Longview dominated for three quarters, John Tyler finally ignited its explosive offense early in the fourth period. Reggie Jones hit Rodney Williams with a 41-yard scoring toss on a reverse pass.
As the saying goes, it was a brand new ballgame, with 10:39 left and the score 14-7. Minutes later John Tyler regained possession and after a pass from Gary Jones to Williams, the Lions faced second and inches at the Longview 34.
Then came the first key call.
Half the Lions offense shifted to the far sideline before the snap and Gary Jones threw across the field hoping to hit Columbus Clark with a screen. The pass, however, went backward and sailed out of bounds. It was ruled a lateral and John Tyler lost six yards.
Instead of second and inches, the Lions had third and 6 against a defense which held them to minus-15 yards rushing in the first half.
On fourth down, Carlton Drain and John Johnson swarmed Clark for a 4-yard loss, giving Longview the ball at its own 40.
That led to Cox's gamble.
Three plays later, Longview faced fourth and 1 at midfield. Cox could either go for it and risk turning the ball over or could punt and force John Tyler to drive 70 or 80 yards for a tie.
Uncharacteristically, Cox went for it. Johnson took a pitch right, followed Clyde Boyd behind tackle Darrin Brinkley for an unspectacular 2-yard gain.
Unspectacular, but effective.
"It wasn't smart," said Cox. "I just felt like we could make it."
Apparently Cox wasn't the only one with good vibes.
"I felt like we could make it. The offense had been moving three or four yards all night and we felt like we could get at least one yard," said quarterback Eric Harris. "The way the line was blocking, we felt like we could get a yard on anybody."
Said Brinkley: "I was just thinking about getting my block and driving him back as far as I could."
The play sealed John Tyler's doom. Clifford Powell followed with a quick opener up the middle for 26 yards. Four plays later, Johnson scored from 6 yards out with 1:51 remaining.
The win clinched a playoff berth for the Lobos and advanced its record to 8-1 and 5-1. John Tyler falls to 3-5-1 and 1-4-1.
No one would had guessed the game would ever be in doubt the way it began.
Tommy Taylor recovered a John Tyler fumble at the 19 on the game's second play.
From there Longivew hammered away with Johnson, who went over 1,000 yards for the season. He carried six times on seven plays and capped the march by diving into the end zone from a yard out with 8:36 left. Jason Baird added the PAT.
On its next possession, Longview picked up where it left off.
Johnson, doing most of the work, led Longview downfield. The key play, a 47-yard scamper off a draw, gave the Lobos first and goal at the 4.
Johnson later dived in for the score and Baird again added the PAT for a 14-0 lead with 2:36 left in the opening period.
The John Tyler defense shut Longview down the rest of the half, but its offense was stopped cold. The Lions had 10 yards total offense in the first half and only one first down.
Longview sacked Jones four times for 25 yards in losses in the first half and five times for minus-31 yards.
"Coach (Robert) Bero said they couldn't pick up our stunts and it worked just about the whole game," said Taylor, who was hampered by a touch of the flu.
Bero was correct and Longview stifled the Lions through-out the contest until Williams beat the Longview secondary deep.
That was the first score Longview had allowed in 10 quarters. However, it didn't matter.
The Lobos will end the regular season next week at home against crosstown rival Pine Tree.