|LONGVIEW - Insomniacs in Lobo Stadium found themselves in for a great Friday night. However, anyone else present undoubtedly had to fight heavy eyelids to watch Longview dispose of Nacogdoches, 10-0.
A statistical battle this was not. When two teams combined for just over 200 yards total offense and only 15 first down it's obvious fans didn't spend the majority of the time on the edge of their seats.
If No-Dox was on sale in the concession stand vendors would've made a killing.
Anytime a punter/place kicker deserves the game's Most Value Player award (and Longview kicker Jason Baird was definitely the most impressive individual performer) it's obvious the fireworks were forgotten.
Still, with Baird hitting a 35-yard field goal, Clyde Boyd tallying a late touchdown and the defense registering its third shutout of the season, Longview yawned its way into a tie with John Tyler, which defeated Lufkin 21-3, for the District 13-AAAAA lead with a 3-0 league record. The Lobos are 4-2 overall.
Nacogdoches falls to 0-3 and 0-6 on the year. The Dragons have lost 18 consecutive games dating back to 1983.
Longview set the stage for what kind of game awaited after Glenn Moore intercepted Nacogdocohes' quarterback Kenneth Wooten early in the contest and returned it to the Dragon 35-yard line.
The Lobos moved to the 22, but after an illegal motion penalty they lost 19 yards on the next three plays and were forced to punt.
That's when Baird began his brilliant performance. Baird, who averaged 38.8 yards on six punts and kept the Dragons in poor field position most of the game, booted a 38-yarder to pin Nacogdoches back to its own 46.
He later boomed a 40-yarder to highlight Longview's first quarter. In fact, the Lobos' longest play of the first half came midway through the second period when a Nacogdoches defender was flagged for grabbing quarterback Chris Cotton's face mask on fourth-and-seven at the 'Doches 32.
The would-be sacked turned into a Longview first down, one of only two in the half, and put the ball at the 20.
But the Lobos managed just two yards on three following plays, Baird salvaged the effort by booming a 35-yard field goal with 7:39 remaining.
The kickoff's most notable play however occurred no the ensuing kickoff.
Phillip Jones reeled in the kick at the 10, found an opening in the Longview coverage and broke into the open field. With a pair of blockers and only Baird between him and the goal line, it appeared Jones had a sure touchdown.
But Baird dodged the blockers and made a diving tackle at the Longview 38.
Understand, Baird, a 6-2, 160 pound senior, is really a soccer player. He doesn't intend to do anything on the gridiron except kick.
"I really don't know what happened (on the tackle)," he laughed after the game. "I was in the middle and he had these two big blockers coming at me. He tried to juke me. I think that's what they call it, and went outside. I just went after him and caught him. It surprised me as much as anybody else."
"I was thinking run Jason run," said Longview coach Doug Cox of the play. "I was afraid the kid would pull away."
Longview's defense responded to Baird's tackle and stopped the Dragons on downs at the Lobo 23.
Neither team threatened the rest of the half, although Longview's Kenna Jones grabbed his first interception.
The Lobos had 10 total yards in the first half (3 rushing, 7 passing) and two first downs. Nacogdoches managed three first downs, 36 rushing yards and 17 passing.
Longview appeared ready to wake the weary fans when the second half started as Moore returned the kickoff 33 yards to the 47.
Spurred by Carl Johnson's 20-yard run, Longview advanced to the 18. The drive stalled, though, ad Baird was wide right on a 39-yard field goal attempt.
Still, there were some key plays ahead.
Nacogdoches moved to Longview's 49 on the ensuing possession, but on third-and-two, quarterback Matt Nichols, who came in when Mike Adams knocked Wooten out of the game, was thrown for a 3-yard loss by Donny Childs.
Then early in the fourth quarter, senior defensive end Lonzell Williams broke through to block John Vandover's punt. He snared the loose ball inside the 10 and lunged for the end zone, but fell there yards short.
"I was going in and made up my mind I was going to block it," Williams said. "The blocker didn't get enough of me. I thought I was close enough to the end zone so I just dived in there."
Unfortunately, he didn't dive far enough.
Thomas Snoddy fumbled on the next play and it appeared the game would end 3-0.
Longview finally got on the scoreboard again when Boyd went in from two yards out with 1:17 remaining.
The score was set up when 'Doches turned the ball over on downs at its own 22.
Johnson, who gained a team high 68 yards on six carries, rambled for 16 on the first play. Three plays later, Boyd added the final points.
Longview's defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown in 16 quarters, dating back to a 3-0 loss to Abilene. The offense, however, faces a big test next week against Lufkin.
"Offensively, I really thought we'd do better," said Cox. "But tonight you have to give Nacogdoches' defense a lot of credit. They played well."