Longview falls in title game

Posted by Coleman Swierc

WACO, TEXAS (Longview News-Journal) - The Longview Lobo football team played better in a 2009 state-championship game than it did in 2008, but the end result was an even more bitter defeat.

The Lobos came up short with a 24-17 loss to Lake Travis in the Class 4A Division I state championship at Floyd Casey Stadium. Lake Travis won a 48-23 decision over the Lobos in 2008.

Longview had 371 total yards to 264 for Lake Travis, but the Lobos couldn't overcome two early touchdowns by the Cavaliers and a key third-quarter turnover.

"The feeling is worst than last year," Longview nose tackle Bubba Vactor said. "It's better to get blown out than to lose like this."

Longview (14-2) was denied its first state title since winning it all in 1937. It's the third time Longview has finished as a state runner-up, previously placing second in 1997 and 2008. Lake Travis (16-0) captured its third consecutive state title, winning its 46th consecutive game in the process.

Longview held Lake Travis to its lowest point total this season, basically holding its ground after allowing touchdowns on the first two drives by the Cavaliers. While Longview's defense was good, Lake Travis was better, holding the Lobos to their lowest point total since a 28-14 loss to Lufkin on Sept. 18.

"Our offense get a lot of attention, but our defense make a lot of stands and we made a stand tonight," Lake Travis linebacker Quinton Crow said.

One player Lake Travis had trouble stopping was Longview quarterback Aaron Johnson. Johnson accounted for 246 total yards, including 165 yards rushing on 22 carries. Longview coach John King said Johnson gave his team a chance to win the game.

"Aaron played like he always does, with all of his heart," Longview receiver Carey Fortson said. "He gave everything he had until there was :00 on the clock."

Longview had the momentum to begin the second half. After Kramer Fyfe kicked a 26-yard field goal to expand a Lake Travis lead to 17-3, Longview rolled 69 yards on four plays, capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Da'Cedric Hunt with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter.

With Longview having a chance to even up the game, Lake Travis defensive end Trevor Gillette forced Johnson to fumble and Austin Williams recovered for the Cavaliers at the Longview 20-yard line.

On the play, Longview offensive tackle Tevin Ratcliff was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, putting the ball at the Longview nine-yard line and Andy Erickson had a two-yard touchdown run two plays later, to put Lake Travis up 24-10 with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter. Running back Tyler McCray, Longview's leading rusher, also didn't return to the game after the fumble, but King said it was because McCray was ineffective. King made a similar move in Longview's 28-25 win over Texas High in their District 13-4A opener on Sept. 25.

Longview drove to the Lake Travis 30-yard line on its next drive, but Hunt was stopped for a two-yard gain on a fourth-and-three play, getting stopped by Williams inches from a first down.

Longview pulled within 24-17 with 2:37 remaining on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Brandon Olson on a fourth-and-10 play, with Olson making a diving catch.

On the ensuing onside kick however, the ball went out of bounds. Lake Travis clinched the win on its ensuing drive when quarterback Michael Brewer threw a 35-yard pass to Tanner Gillette on a fourth-and-three play at the Longview 42-yard line.

"Our guys up front on defense played extremely well," said Lake Travis coach Chad Morris, who led Elysian Fields to back-to-back state runner-up finishes in 1998 and 1999. "Longview has a great football team, but we have a great football team too."

Longview opened the game with a three-plays-and-out possession, Lake Travis drew first blood as Michael Brewer threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Erickson on the Cavaliers second play from scrimmage. Brewer finished with 212 total yards, 191 passing.

Longview's second drive was far more successful.

The Lobos marched 73 yards, capped by a 31-yard field goal by Kyle Jenkins with 1:47 left in the second quarter. However, that would be Longview's only points in the first half, the first time the Lobos were held without a touchdown in a half since the first half of the season opener against Allen.

A late-hit call on the Lobos set up Lake Travis at the Longview 45-yard line on its second drive, ending with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Brewer to Conner Floyd with 11:25 left in the second quarter. Lake Travis threatened to break the game on the ensuing kickoff as a pooch kick dropped without a Lobo fielding it and Taylor Wrinkle recovered the live ball at the Longview 24-yard line.

However, the Longview defense kept the game from getting out of hand. Three plays later, Longview's LaDarius Brooks made an interception in the end zone. Brooks would add a second interception at the Longview nine-yard line with 9:08 left in the game.

Longview drove to the Lake Travis 31-yard line on the ensuing drive, but Fortson was stopped for a one-yard reception on a fourth-and-six play by Crow.

Lake Travis had another chance to expand its lead when Johnson fumbled a handoff from Rayshone McGee and Connor Nelson recovered for Lake Travis at the Longview 27-yard line with 2:51 left in the first half.

The Lobos kept the score at 14-3 for halftime when Longview's Anthony Wiley stripped Erickson of the ball and Diop Johnson recovered for the Lobos at the Longview 26-yard line with 1:22 left in the first half. Longview had a 162-120 edge in total yards and a 9-7 edge in first downs in the first half.

This year's Longview team is the first in school history to advance to back-to-back state-championship games, but that was little solace for King.

"It's not good enough for us," King said. "We expect better."

Such a title will have to wait, which is little comfort for seniors such as Fortson.

"Other than a family member dying, this is the worst feeling you can have," Fortson said.