TYLER - A Halloween treat turned into smash mouth football at Rose Stadium, and it was the Longview Lobos who turned the trick in a 20-14 win Friday night before a standing-room-only crowd of 14,000.
Longivew, which replaced John Tyler this week as the top-ranked Class 5A team in the state, rallied with a pair of second-half touchdowns to improve to 9-0 and clinch at least a share of the District 12-5A crown at 4-0. It's the Lobos first district crown since 1993.
The win also ended the Lions' strange hold over Longview, which had been outscored 89-21 in three consecutive losses. John Tyler (7-2, 2-2), which had lost its No. 1 ranking a week ago in a 24-14 loss at Lufkin, suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 1993.
A Jay Hurst 14-yard pass to Shawn Byrdsong and a 2-yard dive up the middle by Fred Talley put the necessary points on the scoreboard. The run by Talley - his 14th rushing touchdown of the season - was set up by Brian Davis' interception early in the fourth quarter.
"This is our sixth win on the road (this season)," said Longview coach Robert Bero. "We said going in to the season, if this football team is ever going to win a state championship, we've got to learn to win on the road. We've done it now six times and to beat John tyler at home is huge."
Talley, who gained just 63 yards on 24 carries for his lowest output this season, found the middle to be tough going against No. 6 John Tyler. The Lobos came into the game as the top-rated offense in the district, with Talley the main force behind the team's 1,700 yards on the ground.
Longview, which had made few mistakes this season, practically gave away two touchdowns to John Tyler as it trailed 14-7 at halftime. A mishandled return off a Lion punt and a fumble which was returned to the Lobos' one-yard line keyed the first half deficit.
Longview's comeback started on its second possession of the third quarter. The Lobo defense, which gave up just 128 yards the entire night, forced the Lions to punt inside their own 20-yard line. Lee Jackson caught the 37-yard punt and returned it 8 yards to the John Tyler 45.
A series of running plays by Talley and Hurst eventually forced the Lobos into a third-and-nine at the 14. Hurst, who was under a heavy rush and was hit as he threw the ball, connected with Byrdsong for the touchdown with 22 seconds left in the quarter.
Byrdsong also made a great adjustment on the play as John Tyler defender Charles Bell forced him back to the inside to make the catch. David Monsivais tacked on the point-after to tie the game at 14-all.
"We were going to break it in and then break it out real quick to get them to bite," said Hurst. "I got hit as soon as I was throwing it and it was short and he broke it back underneath. He made a great play...it was a great catch, throwing to a great athlete."
One series later, Davis grabbed the ball out of the air after it bounced off line backer Jacob Pierce's face mask for the interception. The pick was the first for Bell, who had replaced the injured Eric Giddens at quarterback two weeks ago.
Taking possession at the John Tyler 33, Hurst went 25 yards to Jamille Butcher on second down, giving the Lobos a first-and-goal on the two-yard line. Talley scored on the next play as Longview took a 20-14 lead. However, the extra point missed to the left of the upright.
Longview's defense then went to work allowing John Tyler only two first downs in its final two possessions. The Lions then turned the ball over on downs at their own 44 as the ball slipped off the fingertips of receiver LaMark Pettigrew.
The Lobos had scored first, taking their second possession of the game 54 yards in 13 plays. A 25-yard punt return by Dexter Daniels gave Longview good field possession at its own 46. A fake punt on fourth-and-three from the John Tyler 37, where Jackson made a good run after taking a short pass from Hurst kept the drive alive.
Talley also made a key 11-yard run and Hurst connected with Daniels for a nine yard reception on third down. Leon Bell finished off the drive with a two yard carry with 2:21 showing on the clock in the opening quarter of play.
Both of John Tyler's touchdowns traveled just 32 yards. The first came as the Lobos misplayed Lion punter Eric Neely's 63-yard punt. John Tyler held and Longview was forced to punt from its own two-yard line.
John Tyler fielded the 29-yard punt and set up shop at the 31. The short seven-play drive was capped by Bell's one yard quarterback keeper.
The Lions took the lead as Lee Nix, who had alternated at quarterback with Hurst, had the ball knocked loose by Floyd Dorsey and picked up by LaBryant Ross, returning it 19 yards to the Lobo one. Bell scored for the second time in the game as John Tyler took the lead 14-7 with 4:22 remaining before halftime.