|SULPHUR SPRINGS - Longview's defense pulled the spotlight away from two high-powered offenses on Friday.
In a 32-13 victory over Sulphur Springs, the Lobos held the Wildcats to a season-low in points in a showdown between state-ranked teams before an overflow crowd at Gerald Prim Stadium. Longview harassed blue-chip college recruit quarterback Tyrik Rollison, sacking him seven times with three by defensive end Jeremiah Farley.
The most critical sack came on the opening drive of the second half, when Chris Weaver ended a drive by the Wildcats at the Sulphur Springs 46-yard line. The Lobos took advantage with a five-play drive, ending with a one-yard touchdown plunge by Jonathan Oliver. A two-point conversion run by Aaron Johnson off a bad snap for an extra point gave Longview a 29-7 lead with 6:57 left in the third quarter, ending the competitive stage of the game.
Longview (4-2, 2-0 in District 13-4A), ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press' Class 4A state poll, gains sole possession of the 13-4A race and shook off the disappointment of having to forfeit a Sept. 12 win over Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian on Thursday because of an ineligible player. Sulphur Springs (5-1, 1-1), ranked No. 7 in the poll, had a five-game winning streak snapped and was held below 48 points for just the second time this season. The first time was a 22-16 win over Wichita Falls Rider in a nationally-televised game on Sept. 11.
Longview's offense, especially its ground game, did hold up its end of the show. The Lobos had 375 yards rushing on 37 carries, led by Tyler McCray, who went for 189 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Rollison did live up to his billing as a eagle-eyed quarterback, passing for 328 yards, exactly 164 yards each half. Out of eight drives into Longview territory however, the Wildcats gave the ball up on downs four times, had a missed field goal and had time run out of the first half. One touchdown was a three-yard pass from Rollison to Jace Jackson with 2:12 remaining in the game.
Longview didn't have a good start of the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Sulphur Springs linebacker Dillon Verner forced Longview quarterback Johnson to fumble, and Sulphur Springs defensive end Colton Nash recovered at the Longview 48-yard line.
However, the Longview defense forced and three-and-out possession, and the Longview offense bounced back for a 95-yard possession, capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by McCray. Sulphur Springs responded with its own 84-yard drive, but the drive died at the Longview six-yard line as Alonte Darden broke up a potential touchdown pass from Rollison to Jackson.
Longview's next drive ended when a 24-yard field goal attempt by Kyle Jenkins hit the right goal post. Two plays later however, Lamarcus Howard picked off a Rollison pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown, helping give the Lobos a 14-0 lead with 10:19 left in the first half.
After Sulphur Springs kicker Fernando Arellano missed a 45-yard field goal, McCray appeared to be caught in the backfield on a pitch, but the junior broke two tackles, and out-sprinted the Sulphur Springs defense for a 69-yard touchdown run with 3:50 left in the first half, giving Longview a 21-0 lead. McCray had 141 yards rushing in the first half on six attempts, sparking a 221-yard effort by the Lobos.
Sulphur Springs got on the scoreboard with 1:24 left in the first half when Rollison connected with Shane McQueen on a 28-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-10 play.
Jenkins got another field-goal chance, and converted a 27-yard attempt with 5:06 left in the game. Johnson had 115 total yards of offense, Oliver had 78 total yards of offense and Da'Cedric Hunt had 77 yards rushing on 11 carries. Weaver had four tackles for losses, while Farley had three.
Sulphur Springs running back Ryan Young had 130 total yards of offense, with 62 yards on 16 rushing attempts. Jackson led the Wildcats with 71 yards receiving on nine receptions. Verner had two sacks.
Longview hosts Mount Pleasant at 7:30 p.m. next Friday. Former Longview standout and 10-year NFL veteran cornerback Bobby Taylor will have his number 24 retired in a pre-game ceremony.