|IRVING - Reserve defensive back Kevin Middleton put it best. "We didn't get district, but we got by."
Or is it bi - as in bi-district.
Longview, which lost the District 13-5A championship last week in a 10-9 defeat to Pine Tree, took out its frustrations on Waco High Saturday at Texas Stadium and captured a rousing 25-19 Class 5A bi-district victory over the District 14-5A champion.
Longview, 8-2-1, advances to the area round of the playoffs where it'll meet the winner of Saturday night's Cypress Creek- Conroe McCullough contest.
Waco finished its season 9-2.
The Lobos hadn't played well in three games and head coach Doug Cox wondered early last week if his team was due for a good performance. It was, but it didn't seem so early.
Without running an offensive play, Waco had a 12-0 lead by virtue of James Walker's 95-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff and Brian Rose's 32-yard return of a Kirt Griffin interception with 9:10 still remaining in the first period.
"I felt like we had some terrible mistakes. We had given them two touchdowns," said Cox. "But I didn't think that had ruined us. We had a difficult job, but did they (Lobos) ever come through. This eased a lot of hurt for us."
The hurt started to subside on the kickoff following Waco's second touchdown. Jimmy Smith returned the kick to the Longview 45 and the Lobo offense was just getting started.
Paced by Thomas Stauts' 10-yard run and Griffin's 7-yard scamper, the Lobos moved to the Waco 38.
From there, the 6'3, 190-pound senior faked into the line, pulled up and drilled a shot to Eric Faggett, who was at least 20 yards behind the Waco secondary. Faggett strolled into the end zone to complete the touchdown with 6:26 showing.
David Hill added the extra point to make it 12-7.
Griffin, rated one the state's top passers in the preseason, lived up to the billing in the postseason opener at the expense of the Lions. Griffin completed 10-of-13 passes for 151 yards.
The Lobos accumulated 207 yards through the air and three touchdowns - all scored by Faggett.
Waco's offense wasn't fazed and moved into good field position on its next two possession but both ended in fumbles.
The first drive short-circuited at the Longview 26 when Charleton Greene fumbled and Warren Smith pounced on the loose ball at the 30.
The Lions then were at midfield, but quarterback Ted Long fumbled and Mark Saurette recovered for the Lobos at the Waco 45.
Longview, aided by a roughing-the-passer call, got to Waco's 18 where David Hill came on to attempt an apparent 34-yard field goal.
Instead, holder Mike Bobo, the backup quarterback, rolled out left and tossed to Faggett, who shrugged off two tacklers inside the 5 and danced over the goal line.
"We had seen all week they flow to the ball and try for the block," explained Bobo. "So we tried the fake. I didn't expect them (Lions) to come after me, I thought they would stay back. They made me throw the ball and it was right there and Eric broke a couple of tackles."
Cox then gambled, electing to try a two-point conversion, and Griffin rolled right and beat the defense to the flag for a 15-12 lead with 9:12 left in the half.
Waco retaliated with an 11-play, 75-yard drive to regain the lead.
A 25-yard pass from Long to Brian Mitchell set the Lions up at the Longview 26. It took eight plays for Waco to blast it in, Long launching himself over David Henderson from three yards out with 4:06 left in the half.
Lin Elliot hit the extra point to make it 19-14.
Longview, with its revived passing attack, wasn't through though.
On second-and-25 Rolanda Reese made a spectacular diving catch for 24 yards.
Smith kept the drive going with a 6-yard gain on fourth-and-one. Then, Griffin passed backwards to Eric Faggett, who threw downfield to a leaping Reese at the 6 yard line.
Reese, a senior, probably guaranteed himself a scholarship with his brilliant performance, which netted four catches for 96 yards.
Griffin zipped a 6-yard scoring strike to Faggett with 28 seconds left and Longview regained the lead. David Hill's kick made it 22-19.
But that wasn't all. Greene fumbled on Waco's next play and big Chris Fuller recovered at the 40.
A 17-yard catch by Reese eventually moved Longview to the 27 and bare-footed Seven Allgood kicked a 45-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half to end the scoring.
"It seemed like everything worked for us," marveled Cox.
It did. But in the second half it was Longview's defense coming through with the big plays. Waco managed just two first downs and 20 yards offense in the second half.
Jimmy Smith fumbled on the first play on the second half and Waco's Ronnie Bates recovered at the 17.
However, Henderson stepped in front of Long's pass for Mitchell and intercepted at the 5.
That was the beginning of the end for Waco.
The Lions' next possession ended with a failed fake punt at the Longview 35.
From there, Longview attempted to just run out the clock and was very successful using Stauts. The fullback was the game's leading rusher with 67 yards on 16 carries.
Although they didn't score, the Lobos had consecutive drives that used 4:57 and 6:30 of the clock.
Waco's final drive was doomed from the beginning when Bobo's punt was yielded at the 2 and returned just two yards.
The Lions got out to their own 20, but consecutive sacks by Fuller and Darius Jones put them at the 8 and an incomplete screen pass forced a punt.