|LONGVIEW - Two in a row.
Longview won its second consecutive 15-5A district championship Friday night at Lobo Stadium, combining defense and the one-two punch of tailbacks L'Vendri cite and Amond Hutchings in capturing a 13-0 triumph over Marshall.
It was Longview's first back-to-back district titles since winning three in a row from 1974-76, and coach Robert Bero's second in five years at the helm.
The win sends the Lobos into the bi-district round of the Class 5A state playoffs against either Spring Westfield or Spring. A John Tyler win today over Tyler Lee puts Longview in Division I (largest school enrollment) against Westfield, while a Lee victory would pit the Lobos and Spring in Division II.
Longview improves it season record to 8-2, while Marshall, which needed a victory against the Lobos to advance into the playoffs, ends its year at 6-4.
"We've said it all year long, you win championships with defense," Bero said. "The last three weeks our defense has played exceptionally well. They just layer their tails off tonight."
A 21-yard interception return by Sophomore free safety Daydrion Taylor - his second of the night - sealed the victory with 4:21 remaining in the game. Taylor stepped in front of a Brandon Walker-to-Will Abney pass. It was Walker's third pick off of the contest.
Two of the three interceptions led to Longview scores as both teams had played to a 0-0 tie after three quarters.
"When two good football teams play, a lot of times that's what it comes down to, making something out of the others team's mistakes," Bero added. "And we happened to do that tonight."
Wardell Glaspie's theft of a Walker pass late in the third quarter, set up Fite's one-yard dive of the game's first points with 11:56 to play.
Glaspie returned the interception from Marshall 22 down to the six yard line. It took a pair of carries by Hutchings to the one before Fite went over for his seventh rushing touchdown of the season.
Fite finished with 103 yards on 17 carries, while Hutchings added 102 on 18.
The Lobo defense held Marshall to only 89 yards on the ground, 57 of those coming from Walker - a running back who was converted to quarterback after veteran Richard Hall went down earlier in the season with a separated shoulder. Through the air, Walker was 10 of 23 for 90 yards.
The Longview ground attack finished with 228 yards.
The Lobos also had to battle back from three turnovers in the game. But it was the Mavericks' mistakes which eventually decided the outcome.
Longview's defense twice denied Marshall from scoring inside 20-yard line as the Mavericks posted the only penetrations of a 0-0 first half.
Marshall also hurt itself with 40 yards of penalties, including a crucial 5-yard call for illegal motion after reaching the Lobo five, and facing a third-and-two.
The Mavericks then tried a 27-yard field goal attempt by Jason Pondant, which Stephon Porter came around the right side to block with 3:36 to play in the half. Porter's block of an extra point the previous week was the difference in a 17-16 Longview win over John Tyler.
Marshall had earlier reached the Lobo 17, after a partial block of a Levin Fuller punt in the opening quarter, but a motion call set the ball back again. Pondant's 39-yard field gaol attempt with 3:54 showing was just wide to the right.
The Lobos' only scoring opportunity of the half came at the 10:22 mark of the second quarter, bunt Darren Danielson's 43-yard field goal fell short of the crossbar.
Longview continued to struggle in turnovers, twice turning the ball over on fumbles. They also averted a third late in the half when the Lobos wrestled away a loose ball from a Maverick defender at their own 22.
On the first play of the game, the Lobos appeared to be in position to score when Taylor intercepted Walker's pass at the Maverick 28. But two plays later, Hutchings fumbled.