TYLER - Kirt Griffin lived up to his preseason billing and Longview's defense frustrated Tyler Lee as the Lobos registered a 21-9 victory in their District 13-5A opener here Friday night in Rose Stadium.
Griffin, touted as one of the state's top quarterbacks, didn't produce awe-inspiring stats but his play highlighted the Lobos offense. The 6'3, 190-pound senior completed five of 10 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. He also sprinted 38 yards to set up Longview's first score.
Meanwhile, the defense rebounded from an early lapse to stifle the Red Raiders offense, surrendering just 114 yards on the ground. Most of Lee's 239 yards came late in the game when Longview played back, guarding against big gainers.
But for all the efforts of Griffin and the Lobo defense, Longview needed some help from Tyler Lee to secure its third win in four outings.
Lee fell to 2-2.
Longview held a 7-3 advantage after Griffin hit Eric Faggett with a 15-yard touchdown strike on fourth-and-four with 3:38 left in the first quarter.
Penalties, a thorn in Longview's side this season, helped stall a couple of drives and the Lobos didn't threaten to score again until late in the second period, when the Raiders presented Longview with a gift.
Mike Bobo launched a bouncing, 31-yard punt which ricocheted off the helmet of Lee's John Idrogo at the 19, where Kevin Middleton covered it for the Lobos.
Two plays later, Griffin lofted a pass to Rolanda Reese, who caught it at the goal line and tumbled into the end zone with 17 seconds left in the half.
"It was a dive pass right, S comeback," said Reese. "I saw it coming low, I dived for it and caught it."
David Hill's PAT gave Longview a 14-3 lead.
Although Longview what managed a couple of touchdowns, the Lobos weren't impressive, offensively.
With the exception of Griffin, who threw for 62 yards in the first half and had two passes dropped, Longview had little success against the Lee defense.
At least part of that was because tailback Thomas Snoddy, the district's leading rusher going into the game, left the contest in the first quarter with just 12 yards and did not return.
Snoddy aggravated a dislocated left kneecap. However, Longview trainer Monte Jameson said the injury wasn't as serious as it sounds and expects Snoddy to play next week against Texas High.
But if Longview's offensive effort was subpar, Lee's was downright futile.
The Raiders drove 70 yards in 10 plays for a 28-yard Chris Renner field goal on their opening possession, but found Longview's defense ornery and ungiving the rest of the way. Lee managed just 33 yards and two first downs, one on a penalty, the remainder of the half.
"After the field goal, we all just pulled together and shut them down like a good defensive team," offered middle linebacker Warren Smith.
Without Snoddy, Longview couldn't mount much offense in the third quarter.
Aided by another Idrogo fumble, the Lobos moved in for the clinching score.
On third-and-one at the Raiders' 24, Idrogo was hit hard in the line, jarring the ball loose. Big Chris Fuller recovered at the 25.
Two good runs by Ray Allison and an eight-yard scamper by Faggett, put Longview at the one-yard line and Allison blasted over from there with 9:48 left.
Hill's kick ended Longview's scoring.
The Raiders, sparked by a 37-yard pass play from Anthony Symes to Brad Burkett moved to the Longview 13.
From there, Symes scrambled into the end zone with 7:14 remaining. The extra appoint attempt failed leaving the score 21-9.
Longview embarked on on a time consuming drive which ended with Hill's missed field goal attempt from 26 yards.
But the drive used six minutes and nine seconds and killed any chance of a Lee rally.
"We played more tonight as a team," said Longview coach Doug Cox. "It's a good feeling. There was a closeness out there and that's what helps you jell into a unit."