|IRVING - While Highland Park was entertaining thoughts of a date with Metroplex rival Plano this week in the Class 5A quarterfinals, Longview instead kept its date with destiny.
Using a crunching ground game that netted 496 yards, the Lobos raced to a three-touchdown halftime lead en route to a 41-14 regional breeze over the Scots here Saturday night in Texas Stadium before 10,080.
The win boosts 10-2-1 Longview into the quarterfinals against Plano's Wildcats Saturday afternoon here at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. It will be Longview's third game here in four playoff outings this season and their first against the Cats since 1980. This is also the furthest a Longview team has advanced since the 1975 unit lost in the semifinals.
Highland Park closes at 9-2-1.
The triumph was easily the Lobos' most impressive of the 1986 campaign as tailback Jimmy Smith rushed for 180 yards on just 20 carries and wingback Eric Faggett added 163 on 16 attempts. Faggett had just 197 through the first 12 games and the Lobos had been averaging only 172 per game and had scored more than 28 points only once.
They finished with 504 total yards and 27 first downs, including 20 in the first two quarters.
Of the 496 yards, only 46 came in the fourth period after Longview had already built its impressive margin of victory. Strong armed quarterback Kirt Griffin only passed one time - it was good for his 12th touchdown toss of the year - and Mike Bobo did not punt until the sixth play of the final quarter. As fate, or destiny, might have it, the ball travelled 67 yards to the Scots' 2.
It was the Lobos' night.
Although Highland Park's passing duo of Casey Clyce to John Hopkins was all it was billed up to be, the Lobos answered a Scots three-quarter touchdown with an impressive eight-play, 80-yard drive to take an insurmountable 35-14 lead with 5:25 left. Faggett scored on a reverse from 10 yards out but the key play was a 53-yard dash by Smith.
David Hill added the fourth of his five extra point.
Griffin capped a six-play, 76-yard marched with 1:08 left in the third when he kept for 14 yards. Smith had a 40-yard run in this drive.
It would be the game's final score.
Clyce, who completed 15-of-28 for 224 yards and two touchdowns to Hopkins (eight receptions, 116 yards) briefly put the Scots within striking range on the first offensive possession of the second half when, while being hit and falling backward, he got off a pass to Hopkins, who made a brilliant diving catch in the back of the end zone. Grady Goodwin's PAT made it 28-14 2:35 into the half.
The Lobos played perhaps their best first half in years, literally dominating the Scots for almost 20 minutes in piling up a 28-0 lead.
By the time Longview scored its fourth touchdown with 4:27 remaining in the second quarter, it held an incredible 37-9 advantage in plays and a 257-13 margin in total yards. Highland Park had fumbled three straight times, with Joe Brookins, Carwyn Richardson and Warren Smith coming up with recoveries.
Longview, however, established its ground game quickly, moving 92 yards in 14 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 2:43 left in the opening period. Twice the Lobos converted third-down plays, once on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Griffin and once on a six-yard run by Faggett.
David Hill tacked on his first extra point.
Smith scored the touchdown on a three-yard swan dive. The drive lasted 7:07 and there were five fist downs.
The Lobos proved opportunistic the next three times.
Clyce, working an option to his right, had his pitch tipped by a hard-charging Brookens, who also recovered the ball at the Scots' 45. Highland Park had excellent field position following Josh Lallier's 53-yard kickoff return to the Longview 43, but disaster would set in. Again, moving the ball on the ground, the Lobos drove to the Highland Park eight in seven plays before Griffin connected with a wide-open Faggett in the right corner of the end zone for the touchdown just 47 seconds into the second quarter.
By the close of the opening stanza, the Lobos had a 137-17 total yards advantage and had run off 20 plays.
Hopkins, who reeled in a 37-yard pass from Clyce on the ensuing offensive snap, bobbled the ball and Richardson was there for the recovery on his own 31
It took only six plays to cover the necessary 69 yards, the big plays being a 32-yard scamper by Faggett and a 26-yard dash by Smith down to the two-yard line. Despite a five-yard procedure penalty, Smith took a pitch right and scored with 8:42 remaining.
After a 32-yard kickoff return by Lallier, placing the ball at the Longview 41, Preston Leon mishandled a handoff from Clyce and Smith made the recovery at his 42.
Another ball-control drive netted the fourth score of the game. Griffin directed his mates 58 yards - thanks in part to a 15-yard unsportsmenlike conduct penalty against the Scots - and scored the touchdown on a one-yard keeper on the drive's ninth play. Faggett had another big play in this march, an 18-yarder, on the initial snap.
The Scots finally righted themselves late in the half and three Clyce passes led the way. He hit Hopkins for 25 yards, Ward Chandler for 14 and Hopkins for 11 and the touchdown with 1:43 left. He was sacked three times in the seven-play drive, but his aerial game, which account for all the first half Highland Park yardage, was in tune for the first time.
The Lobos held a 292-87 advantage in total yards in the first half and Faggett had 120 on just 11 carries.