TYLER - In the end, John Tyler's running game proved too much for Longview, as the Lions ground out a 27-14 victory over the Lobos in the District 12-5A opener for both teams Friday night at Rose Stadium.
Longview, which trailed 20-7 at halftime, rallied on LaRandall McKind's 11-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. But John Tyler, after being stymied for much of the second half, refund its running ame and scored with 3:48 remaining on Andre Mills' 8-yarder to seal the victory.
The Lobos drop to 2-4 for the season, while John Tyler improves to 5-1. The Lions came into the game ranked No. 8 in the state in Class 5A.
The Lions' "running back by committee" rolled up 310 yards as 11 different players touched the ball. Cletus McGee, who started the game at running back before finishing at quarterback, paced John Tyler with 76 yards on eight carries.
Robert Garmon added 60 yards on nine carries with one touchdown - that coming with 11:01 left before halftime to stake the Lions to their 13-point halftime margin. Jonathan Fox's point-after try was wide to the left.
Longview managed just 157 yards total offense against a staunch John Tyler defense. McKind finished with only 40 yards on 18 carries, while Joel Armstrong was 8 of 28 for 116 yards passing.
The spark for the Lobos was their special teams, in particular Willie Andrews, whose 51-yard punt return set up McKind's touchdown. The junior also returned a kickoff 60 yards in the first half.
Still, the Lobos were able to shut down the Lions' offense for much of the second half. John Tyler had just two first downs until its game-clenching drive, which covered 69 yards in nine plays.
Longview fell behind early as two fourth down conversion failures resulted in a pair of John Tyler touchdowns. The Lobos played the role of a gambler as they failed on fourth-and-one at their own 49, then attempted a fake punt from the 48, only to throw an incomplete pass.
McGee broke the ice on John Tyler's second play from scrimmage, taking a double reverse handoff and racing untouched down the right sideline for a 47-yard scoring play. Aaron Ross ran in the second score for the Lions from 10 yards out as they needed just three plays on John Tyler's third possession.
The Lobos, who picked up a first down on their initial play from scrimmage, were bottled up by the John Tyler defense. Even a 60-yard kickoff return by Andrews went for nil as Armstrong was picked off at the goal line by Matthew Melton who returned the interception to the Longview 25. However, Keilan Tate stepped in front of Leroy Thomas' only pass of the first half and took it back 82 yards for a Longview touchdown. Alex Cammack added the extra point as the Lobos trailed 14-7 at the 3:22 mark.
Longview returns home next Friday to host Tyler Lee, while John Tyler travels to Nacogdoches. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 pm. kickoffs.