|LONGVIEW - The Longview Lobos operated Friday under the premise that if senior tailback Isiah Stoker gets the ball often enough, they will generate enough offense to win.
Stoker, who sometimes moves 170 pounds through narrow holes faster than the eye can follow, made the strategy work. Two of his 27 carries went in a flicker from promising gains to touchdowns, and the Lobos scored their fourth straight victory over the Waco High Lions, 17-7, at Lobo Stadium. Stoker totaled 180 yards rushing plus a pass interception while playing defense.
Stoker got his first carry of the second half facing a third-and-two at the Longview 28. He flashed through a small gap, jukes his way through two arm tackle, then hit fourth gear and dashed 72 yards for the touchdown that put the Lobos ahead to stay, 7-0.
Senior kicker Jeff Works, who converted after each touchdown added a 37-yard field goal two minutes later, capitalizing on a Waco fumble for a 10-0 lead.
The Lions took advantage of a freakish play early in the fourth quarter, recovering a fumble at the Lobos' 5 and scoring on a 6-yard pass play to cut the home team's lead to 10-7. But Stoker clinched the victory with 1:44 left in the game, finding a large hole outside left guard and dashing untouched 19 yards for the final touchdown.
Stoker also scored two touchdowns in last season's opener against Waco, then coming off the bench.
The Longview defense came close to pitching a shutout, led by the big plays of ends Tony Cox and J.J. Mathis and cornerback Juan Ingram. Waco's only score was set up by that turnover, win a Lion rusher shot the gap as quarterback Jay Hurst was placing the ball in Stoker's belly. The ball shot loose and was kicked back to the 5, where Waco's Donovan Thompson recovered.
Two plays later, Waco quarterback Shane Newman flipped a flat pass right to Margin Hooks, who scored.
Stoker came up big on defense in the second quarter. One play after the Lions recovered a fumble at the Longview 49 - the Lobos coughed up the ball five times and lost three of them - Stoker intercepted Newman's deep pas on the sideline at the Lobo 22.
Works' field goal was set up by Cox's recovery of Waco tailback Curtis McAfee's fumble at the Lions' 26 on the first play after Stoker's first touchdown. The Longview punt coverage team provided another break by knocking the ball loose from a Lion punt returned at the Waco 15 with 6:38 left in the game. Waco recovered only inches from its goal line, a severe case of bad field position which led to the Lobos' clinching score.
Lobos coach Robert Bero said he hoped that Stoker's heavy workload would produce the results that made the difference.
"That's a quick defensive football team" Bero said of Waco, "but Isiah is so quick himself. On the first touchdown, he beat the linebacker coming across, then cut back inside the rover and was gone. Our quarterbacks did a good job, too. Jay Hurst stepped up tonight (Completing 4 of 4 passes for 58 yards). I liked the work of our defense a lot."