|LONGVIEW - This one will go down as one of the Longview Lobos' biggest disappointments. Put it just a notch below the 10-9 loss to Odessa Permian in '75.
Sure, Bryan's 24-14 Class AAAAA bi-district victory over Longview doesn't sound all that close. In reality, though, the Lobos should have won.
Three pivotal plays, all going against Longview, proved to be the difference.
The first occurred with the Lobos trailing 14-7, but with a second and goal at the Vikings' 1-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the half.
Instead of a tying touchdown, fullback Clifford Powell never controlled Eric Harris's handoff, fumbled into the line and Sheldon Halburton claimed it for the Vikings.
Then, on Longview's only possession of the third quarter the Lobos marched to the Bryan 10-yard line but came away empty.
Eric Harris lost four yards on first down, Joe Johnson picked up three and two incompletions halted the drive.
With Longview trailing 21-14 early in the fourth quarter and with all the momentum, Bryan's Eddie Jordan converted a third-and-six with a 13-yard completion to Drake Josey. That enabled the Vikings to keep possession and eat up several minutes.
Longview finishes the season 9-2, while Bryan stays undefeated at 11-0.
Heading into the contest Longview knew it would have to move the ball against Bryan's celebrated defense which had allowed just 30 points all year.
The Lobos did.
It's small consolation but Longview scored more points against Bryan than any team, Joe Johnson rushed for the most yards (110) and Longview amassed the most yardage (288) against the Vikings.
But it came down to the scoreboard and Longview's 10-point loss comes down to missed opportunities.
"The kids played hard," said a dejected Lobo coach Doug Cox. "I kept thinking we were going to do it."
The Lobos got a bad omen on the opening kickoff when Eric Harris fumbled and Gary Haines recovered for Bryan at the 25.
However, the Vikings could a mange just six yards and turned the ball over on downs at the 19 and neither team threatened again until late in the period.
Harris, who completed 13 of 27 for 162 yards, faked a reverse to Charles Smith and hit Leon Hendrix on a post for 49 yards to the 7-yard line.
One play later, Harris lofted a 4-yard scoring toss to Smith with 11:17 showing. Jason Baird added the extra point to make it 7-0.
Bryan wasn't phased.
A 14-yard run by Charles Perry, which was aided by a 15-yard face mask, and a 27-yard halfback pass from Perry to Melvin Smith moved Bryan to the 8-yard line.
Three plays later, Perry dived into the end zone from the 3-yard line to cap a 5-play, 64-yard drive with 9:39 play. Neal Cuddy's kick tied the contest.
Bryan struck again on its next possession when Perry capped a 10-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown at the 3:26 mark.
But Longview came right back.
Brett Payne's 20-yard reception, Harris's 10-yard run, a late hit and an 11-yard grab by Smith moved Longview to the Bryan 8-yard line with a minute left before intermission.
Johnson blasted for seven yards on first down, but Powell fumbled on the next play.
Bryan threatened to put the game away on its first possession of the second half. On third-and-10, Jordan found Perry open behind the Longview secondary for a 53-yard touchdown pass. Cuddy's PAT gave the Vikings a 21-7 advantage.
Then Longview put together its most impressive drive of the night and came away with nothing.
Johnson carried nine for 11 plays to move Longview from its own 33 to Bryan's 9.
Cox tried to cross up the Viking defense by going to the air, but Harris lost four yards.
A run and two incompletions later, Bryan was back in possession.
The Lobos, though, got a pair of breaks early in the final period.
Mark Moseley, attempting to punt, got a low snap and was smothered by the Lobos at the Bryan 34.
Longview couldn't move and had to punt, but on the next play Smith fumbled and Donnie Childs recovered at the 20.
Five plays later, Powell atoned for his fumble by scoring from the 2-yard line and the PAT made it 21-14.
But on third down and six, Bryan converted for 13 yards and moved deep into Longview territory.