TYLER - Friday's Longview-John Tyler football game is a lesson on why records don't matter in rivalry games. It's a lesson the Lobos didn't have to learn with a loss, although for three quarters the Lobos hardly played like winners.
Longview put themselves in a predicament with five turnovers, but the Lobos were saved by their defense and a bizarre special-teams play in a 10-6 win before 4,000 spectators at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. The win puts Longview (7-1, 3-0) in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.
The Lobos weren't in position for victory until there was 8:35 left in the game and John Tyler clinging to a 6-3 lead. John Tyler was attempting a punt on that play, but the ball got away from John Tyler punter Carlos Manzano.
The ball went into the end zone, but instead of taking a safety, Manzano ran the ball out, where he was met by a gang of Lobos at the John Tyler 1-yard line. Longview quarterback Damion Lewis snuck the ball for the eventual game-winning touchdown on the next play.
Longview's defense did the rest, holding John Tyler to four second-half yards and one first down, on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
It was Longview's seventh straight victory and 20th consecutive district victory, but there was more relief than joy after the game.
"I'm more relieved than happy because we're in the playoffs," said Longview linebacker Dacorris Ford, who had four tackles for losses. "We coasted. We came in here thinking we were a good team. We know now that we have to play four quarters."
Longview clinched the victory when Lewis found tight end David Larsen for a 23-yard gain with under two minutes remaining and the Lobos were able to run out the clock. Larsen had four receptions for 80 yards.
Longview held John Tyler running back Romonte Hampton in check in the second half. Hampton had 12 yards rushing on seven carries in the second, but 12-5A's leading rusher did finish with 100 yards.
John Tyler had allowed 37.9 points per game coming into Friday.
Despite holding Longview to a season-low in points and allowing its fewest points in a game for this season, John Tyler (1-7, 0-3) lost its sixth consecutive game. Longview won its ninth consecutive game over John Tyler, a record for a series that dates back to 1910.
Longview had 11 tackles for losses, with defensive end Cordarren Solomon contributing three. Johnny Garrett had 82 yards rushing to lead Longview, 38 on Longview's final drive to help the Lobos run out the clock.
Longview dodged a bullet on its opening drive, in which John Tyler's Alijah Williams forced a fumble by Lewis and Derrick Choice recovered for the Lions at the John Tyler 47-yard line. John Tyler drove to the Longview 4-yard line, but instead of going for a first down on a fourth-and-inches play, the Lions went for the field goal and Manzano missed a 21-yard attempt wide right.
Longview did not dodge the second first-half bullet, in which Travian Wells intercepted a Lewis pass and returned it 29 yards to the Longview 35-yard line. That set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Billy Thompkins to Devan Dewberry with 9:25 left in the second quarter, the only score in the first half as Carziel Martin blocked Manzano's extra-point attempt. The block was Martin's fifth of this season.
John Tyler was able to control the first half because of the running of Hampton, who rushed for 88 yards on 20 carries. Longview had four turnovers in the first half.
Longview hosts Mesquite (5-3, 3-0) next Friday at Lobo Stadium for sole possession of first place in 12-5A.