|LONGVIEW - If Longview was looking for a character building game it may have found it Friday night, even in defeat.
A blocked punt by Lake Highlands that was returned for a touchdown with 1:42 remaining lifted the Wildcats to a heart-stopping 13-12 win over the Lobos at Lobo Stadium.
"We knew Lake Highlands was one of the top teams in the state," said Longview head coach Robert Bero. "Our football team knows we can play with anybody and we can complete with anybody, if we put forth the great effort. But, still, you can't make mistakes and we had one of those mistakes in the kicking game.
"We're going to put this behind us and we're going to learn from our mistakes. We're going to get ready to play Bryan next week. I think we'll be a better team, because of this. Somewhere down the line this game will pay off for us."
Leading 12-7, the Lobos appeared in position to claim their third straight victory. Free safety Shawn Byrdsong had intercepted for Longview at its own 42-yard line. However, the Lake Highlands' defense held and forced the Lobos to punt.
Jay Hurst, who had been getting off good kicks all night, didn't have a chance in his sixth attempt of the game as Patrick Hendrix blocked the punt. Jamin Stinson picked up the loose ball at the 18-yard line and ran it into the end zone. A two-point conversion pass was dropped as the Wildcats held a one-point lead.
An earlier extra point block by Lake Highlands also proved crucial in the final outcome.
Longview, however, used a reverse by Dexter Daniels on the ensuing kickoff to set up its final possession at the 44. A 15-yard completion from Hurst to Mario Nichols moved the ball into Wildcat territory at the 41. But Lake Highlands' defense forced the ball over on downs at the 38 with 25 seconds remaining.
Longview outgained the Wildcats in total yards, 229-128. Lake Highlands had come into the game having outscored its opponents, 97-21. It also scored on its first 11 possessions combined during the previous two contests.
Sophomore Fred Talley, who rushed for 68 yards on seven carries in a backup role at tailback, put the Lobos up by five on a 30-yard scamper with 4:30 left to play. Longive what marched 80 yards in eight plays.
A two-point conversion run by Tajuan Stoker was stopped short.
Talley's touchdown had answered the Wildcats' nine-play, 73-yard drive with Sam Needum scoring from two yards out at the 9:01 mark. Seth Hanson kicked the extra point.
Lake Highlands' lone offensive touchdown followed the Lobos' 92-yard, 14-play scoring series to snap a 0-0 tie with 34 seconds showing in the third quarter. Hurst scored on a one-yard keeper. The key play in the drive was a 30-yard pass Hurst completed to Eric Davis down the right sideline.
With a heavy rain falling, the snap on the extra point by Erin Roerecke was high and the kick was blocked.
Davis had caught three passes for 40 yards to spearhead an improving passing game.
Hurst, who started the game at quarterback, was 7 of 12 for 79 yards. Steven Bradley also caught four passes for 27 yards.
In the first half, Lake Highlands had the only scoring opportunity. But Hanson's 36-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter was wide to the left.