STORY BY BOB WRIGHT
MIDLOTHIAN – The A&M Consolidated Tigers took another step deeper into the playoffs Saturday afternoon and they did so with emphasis at Midlothian Panther Stadium by getting past one of the state’s premier Class AAAAA clubs, the Longview Lobos.
The Tigers roared both on offense and defense with a 45-35 victory in the Regional Finals, Division 11, qualifying for the State Quarterfinals next Saturday afternoon at 2 o’clock at Wildcat Stadium in Temple. The opponent in the quarterfinals will be the Lake Travis Cavaliers of Austin. The Cavs defeated Dallas Jesuit’s Rangers Saturday afternoon at Waco’s ISD Stadium.
A&M Consolidated played like a team possessed, like a team in a major quest for a State Championship. A large contingent of fans came to back their teams yesterday for the afternoon game which concluded in the early evening. Consolidated stood toe to toe with the East Texans, who had been picked by many to win a state title. The Lobos came into the fray with an 11-1 mark and saw their season end at 11-2, thanks to many factors.
Among kuddos due for performances were the pinpoint passing by quarterback Koby Miller, tough and smart running by receivers Kerry Thomas, Corey Dukes, Derrick Dick and Daniel Zivney, along with many defensive heroics throughout the evening. Brandon Jackson continued his tough running, gouging out yardage time and again to register some first downs and keeping drives alive.
Coach David Raffield, who all week told about his team’s being up to the challenge, and furthermore welcoming these playoff challenges along with his staff. On both sides of the ball, the Tigers’ coordinators had the team well prepared for its biggest challenge so far this season. Now, the Tigers are among only eight clubs in Division 11 vying for the top prize – a state title. Brian Cope, the Offensive Coordinator, and Raffield had the right plan which from the outset took it to the Lobos emphatically. Defensive Coordinator Dale Williams “on the other side of the ball” also had his troops poised and up to the challenge. Maybe things bent a couple of times, but the old cliché stuck. The Tiger “D” never broke down against the super speed of the Lobos.
As a matter of fact, the defense scored twice in succession in the third quarter. Two big plays seemed to put a damper, at least temporarily on the Lobos. At the 9:15 mark of the period, defensive end Alex Arceneaux was in the right spot, picking off junior quarterback Dezmond Chumley and returning the interception 40 yards for a TD. Ryan Anderson, who was perfect on six extra-point kicks, booted the point, and at that juncture, the Tigers led 35-21.
Later in the third – 4:37 remained – Riley Garner scooped up a Lobo fumble and scooted 43 yards for another score by the defense. Suddenly, Longview was behind 42-28.
The Tigers, in lifting their record to 10-2, including a 5-1 reading in District 14-5A, kept up the assault on defense, while taking quite a bit of time off the clock with some ball control. More importantly, this tactic kept the ball from the Lobos, who all season had been an explosive club, including amassing an 8-0 record in District 12-5A.
Consol had to overcome three turnovers with some defensive stands. A fumble lost in the fourth quarter came at the Lobo 29 just six seconds deep into the period, nipping yet another positive drive by the Tigers. Two interceptions in the opening quarter came from the Lobos’ Laurent Johnson, but neither resulted in points.
Consol, which had 523 yards of offense against a heretofore extremely stingy defense, was deadlocked 7-7 with Longview after one period of action, led 28-21 at halftime, held a 42-28 lead after three periods, then got a 28-yard field goal by Anderson with 4:12 to go after the offense had controlled the ball for six minutes and 54 seconds.
The Tiger line opened holes at opportunistic moments as the Consol high-octane attack strutted its stuff. Anchored by center Coby Foster, the “big fellers” up front included Rey Baldobino, Luis Banuelos, Connor Smith and Michael Oliney.
Defensively, some familiar names kept popping up with hits and sticks against the vaunted Lobo offense – names like Arseneaux and Garner (remember the two big defensive returns for scores); K.J. Dukes, Ryan Bevans and Bryce Florence at linebacker; and linemen D.J. Jackson and Tristan Batts. In the secondary, some hits were administered by Corey Stoll, Quin Haynes and Sherman Wilder.
Two minutes deep into the game, Consol had its first touchdown, when Corey Dukes hauled in a Kobe Miller pass, resulting in a pass-and-run play covering 46 yards, capping off a 75-yard march.
Jamycal Hasty, a speedster in the Lobo attack all season, scored first for Longview with a 24-yard run to tie it in the first period. Andres Perez booted the extra point with 4:40 remaining.
Longview took its only lead early in the second quarter on a 14-yard pass from Dezmond Chumley to Mark Tisdell. Andres’ kick made it 14-7.
Tyri Merchant, who took the pitch and made a great cut to score for Consol, knotted the count 14-14 after Anderson’s kick. The score came with 8:43 to go in the second quarter, and ended a five-play, 71-yard drive.
Once re-claiming possession, Consolidated cranked up another successful drive, culminating with a pass-and-run play covering 52 yards from Miller to Derrick Dick with 6:59 left in the half, putting the Tigers up 21-14.
Consol stretched the lead to 28-14 on a 22-yard payoff strike from Miller to Kerry Thomas.
Longview kept within striking distance with a 63-yard pass-and-run from Chumley to Chris Pelham, writing finish to an 86-yard drive that needed half a dozen plays with a minute and 12 seconds to go in the half. That brought the score to 28-21.
In the third period Arceneaux got that interception return with 9:15 to go, putting Consol into a 35-21 lead.
Hasty found daylight up the middle for 26 yards for a Longview score with 6:50 left in the third, whittling the lead to 35-28. It took the Lobos seven plays to cover an abbreviated drive of 36 yards.
Consol, which always seemed to have the answer, did again, taking a 42-28 lead with the second big defensive score. A high snap over Chumley’s head allowed Riley Garner the opportunity to scoop up the ball and return it 43 yards for the score with 4:37 to go.
Then came the time-consuming drive after Consol held Longview on a fourth-down desperation play. The drive put Consol into position for a clinching field goal, which at the time made a three-possession game, if the Lobos had any hope of a comeback. Anderson booted the 28-yard three-pointer, making it 45-28.
Longview scored once more. The points came on a Chumley pass to Darian Leonard with 2:59 left in the game. It was an 89-yard drive in seven plays.
After Consol punted, the Lobos had the ball on their 13. The Tigers held at the Lobo 13 with 23 seconds left. Miller had only to kneel once, and it was over.