|TYLER - Although the stakes were not as high as in past seasons, Longview and John Tyler staged their typical battle here Friday night in Rose Stadium as the Lobos held on for a 14-9 victory.
With the win, Longview improved to 7-1-1 on the season and 5-0-1 in District 13-5A and clinched a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive year. If the Lobos defeat Pine Tree next Friday night they'll enter the state playoffs as the district's first-place team.
John Tyler dropped to 3-6 and 2-4 and will close out a disappointing season here next week against rival Tyler Lee.
In years gone by this game often decided the district championship. But with its subpar season, John Tyler entered the contest with nothing to play for but pride.
That was enough motivation.
Quarterback Kirt Griffin found Rolanda Reese for a 68-yard scoring bomb and sneaked into the end zone from a yard out to stake Longview to a 14-3 first quarter lead.
But John Tyler pulled to within 14-9 at half-time on two Victor Urieta field goals.
The inspired Lions then threatened to take the lead time and again in the second half only to be turned away by the Lobo defense.
"I thought in the second half the defense play better than I've seen all year," said Longview head coach Doug Cox.
Longview actually had an opportunity to take control early in the third period. Sparked by Griffin's 41-yard quarterback sneak a 15-yard face mask penalty and an 18-yard run by Jimmy Smith, the Lobos marched to the John Tyler even-yard line.
But on second-and-two, Brett Payne was called for illegal procedure and the Lobos turned the ball over on downs when Smith was stopped inches short of the first down by Eric King and Derrick Dixson.
The rest of the way it was the Lobos' defense fending off John Tyler's offense from deep inside Longview territory.
John Tyler's first chance to grab the lead came after David Bradley recovered Eric Faggett's fumble at the Lobo 34-yard line.
The Lions reached the 24, but senior cornerback John Reedy intercepted quarterback Reggie Jones at the nine to thwart that threat.
After a Longview punt, John Tyler threatened again but came away empty when Urieta's 34-yard field goal attempt fell short.
Two plays later, however, Dixson intercepted Griffin and returned it 28 yards to the Longview 33.
It was only Griffin's second interception of the year.
The Lions got as close as the Longview 16, but couldn't cash in.
On second-and-six, Alonzo Adams threw Roderick Hawkins for a four-yard loss and then Terry Williams and Darius Jones teamed up to sack Jones for a 10-yard loss.
Longview took over after an incomplete pass.
The Lobos went to Smith, who had 102 yards, to run out the clock. But he was stopped inches short of a first down with fourth down and one yard tog o on the 30, giving John Tyler one more chance.
John Tyler coach Jimmy Franklin pulled Jones, who had completed seven-of-15 for 103 yards and inserted Sophomore Mark Wells for the final series.
Wells complete two passes for five yards.
John Tyler took a 3-0 lead with 3:51 left in the firs half on Urieta's 42-yard field goal, which capped 14-play, 48-yard drive. The Lions converted two third downs and fourth down in the march.
Longview retaliated quickly.
On the first play after the kickoff, Griffin faked a handoff to Smith and then lofted a bomb to Reese, who was at least 20 yards behind the Lions' secondary.
Reese caught the pass at the 35 and strolled into the end zone to complete a 68-yard pass play for his sixth touchdown of the season. It was Longview's longest play from scrimmage this year.
David Hill added the PAT for a 7-3 lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter.
Senior safety David Henderson intercepted wells on the Lions' first play after the kickoff and returned 35-yards to the John Tyler 22.
A 13-yard run by Griffin helped move the ball to the one-yard line and the senior quarterback scored from there on third down.