LONGVIEW -- Ryan Taylor smashed a defensive front that had kept him in check all day with back-to-back-to-back gains of 10, nine and eight yards down to the 13-yard line with less than six minutes to play.

Facing a third-and-2 and then fourth-and-2, however, Marshall's defense bowed up to hold Lindale's Tayton Williams and Taylor for no gain on consecutive plays. And that was just one notable happenstance in a game where every single play counted toward Marshall's 21-17 Class 5A Division II bi-district playoff win Saturday against the Eagles at Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium.

"The defense earned their black today," Marshall coach Clint Harper said. "We're nicknamed the Blackshirt Defense for a reason after those two shutouts (in the past two games). I keep telling people that I don't think we get enough respect for our defense. I still hear people doubting our defense, saying we can't do this and we can't do that on defense. I don't know what more we've got to do."

Receiver Trel Patton follows the lead set by quarterback Cam Haller for a 60-yard touchdown and 7-3 Marshall lead. (Geoff McKay, ETSN.fm)

Harper was a man on the attack in defense of his team after a war with Lindale (5-6).

The Eagles finished fourth in District 16-5A but were held in high esteem for this particular matchup. Their defense was top-notch and their offense had developed enough to support the defensive effort.

Marshall, meanwhile, lost four-year starting quarterback Justin Hart for the season four weeks ago as the Mavericks (10-1) worked out to an opening seven-game winning streak. In the only game against a District 15-5A playoff bound team since losing Hart, Harper's squad lost to Texas High.

It cost the team an outright district championship.

Could former specialty quarterback Cam Haller throw? Or was he just the 1,518-yard rusher that had met his match against Lindale's elite front?

Haller's first pass was a 60-yard touchdown throw to Trel Patton on a fade route. He finished his day 8 of 14 for 125 yards and all three of the Mavericks' scores.

"I wouldn't think of it as shutting them up," Haller said, using the vernacular of the question asked on the field after the victory. "I'd like to say that I showed them that I can throw the football."

The signal caller also carried the ball 26 times for 171 yards. He accounted for all but two of Marshall's 298 total yards after factoring in two other runners' three carries for minus-10 yards and Chavis Mills' 12 yards on the ground. Against a defense that, standalone, might have been the best within East Texas.

Marshall is feeling pretty good about itself with Haller as its offensive leader ahead of an area round rematch against Dallas South Oak Cliff at 3 p.m. Saturday in DeSoto. South Oak Cliff ended its season a year ago in fairly convincing fashion.

Lindale safety Carson Mizell returns Marshall's lone interception down to its 2-yard line. It set up the game's last score and made it interesting throughout the final 22 minutes. (Geoff McKay, ETSN.fm)

Haller did technically throw one interception with the Mavericks leading 21-10 early in the third quarter. A receiver ran the wrong route and Lindale safety Carson Mizell picked it off around midfield and brought it back to Marshall's 2-yard line.

Opposing quarterback Montana Meador connected with Tayton Williams from 11 yards following a loss of nine yards on first down. Safety Micahh Smith caught Williams the play prior.

Smith, fellow defensive back Corteze Hurd, defensive tackle Antonio Washington and the Mavericks' defense at large won particular, yet critical, battles against the Eagles' jab hand.

Washington recorded two sacks. He also brought down Lindale kicking specialist Jordan Lawless at the Eagles' 29-yard line after a bad snap to set up what ultimately was Haller's winning touchdown throw.

Hurd broke up two passes on Lindale's game-ending four-and-out.

Smith simply played in coverage that helped Marshall to three sacks overall in addition to his two tackles for loss.

Up 21-17 after Lindale's final score, the Mavericks forced three turnovers on downs and one punt.

The Eagles' defense won their own series of battles. In fact, they walked off the field for the final time after a punt with 2:05 left in the game and out of timeouts. Linebacker Kale Ridge blew up a screen play on third-and-9 to give his team one last chance.

Lindale threw four straight incompletions and its season ended with 1:41 to spare.

"The defense came through," Hurd said. "We knew they were going to have to pass the ball in order to win. We just stepped up, played our zones and did what we had to do."

Tayton Williams scratched out 47 yards of Lindale, but tackles for loss by Micahh Smith (21) and company put Williams at a net of 15 yards. (Geoff McKay, ETSn.fm)

Lawless gave the Eagles a 33-yard consolation field goal on the game's opening drive.

Meador threw a 46-yard bomb to Williams earlier in the series as Marshall jumped offsides and two more intermediate passes to get within the Mavericks 5-yard line.

A bad snap on first-and-goal erased four potential points in Marshall's four-point win.

Haller threw the 60-yard touchdown pass to Patton less than two minutes later.

The teams traded punts before Haller connected with Chavis Mills from 33 yards for a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Washington closed Lindale's next drive on the botched punt and Haller set up his 7-yard touchdown throw to Jaquavian Dabbs with three runs for 22 yards.

Momentum shifted away almost permanently.

Kendrick Price Jr. swam 20 yards through the interior of Marshall's defense for a touchdown after taking a pop pass sweep from Meador with 1:26 before the break.

The Eagles' defense held Marshall to a three-and-out with the aid of two timeouts to set up Wesley Irons' punt return back to the Mavericks 38-yard line at the 1:00 mark.

Unfortunately, Meador thought he had drawn Marshall offsides once again and heaved a pass to the front of the end zone that was picked off by Brandon Jernigan.

Potential points off the board in a four-point loss.

South Oak Cliff enters next week's area round contest against the Mavericks with an 8-3 overall record. It knocked out Mansfield Timberview, 17-14, Friday evening in the Metroplex.

Marshall will try to avenge last year's 31-14 loss to South Oak Cliff with the momentum it earned Saturday.

"It's going to be another dog fight," Haller said. "I don't doubt that. Another dog fight."

Cam Haller pushes away a would-be tackler. Haller played a hand in all but two of Marshall's 298 yards. (Geoff McKay, ETSN.fm)

Marshall 21, Lindale 17
Class 5A Division II Bi-District Playoff Game
Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium, Longview

Marshall          7      14    0    0    --   21
Lindale            3       7     7    0   --   17

First Quarter
LIN--Jordan Lawless 33 field goal, 8:34
MAR--Trel Patton 60 pass from Cam Haller (Alan Martinez kick), 6:51
Second Quarter
MAR--Chavis Mills 19 pass from Haller (Martinez kick), 6:20
MAR--Jaquavian Dabbs 7 pass from Haller (Martinez kick), 3:24
LIN--Kendrick Price Jr. 20 pass from Montana Meador (Lawless kick), 1:26
Third Quarter
LIN--Tayton Williams 11 pass from Meador (Lawless kick), 10:24

                                                  MAR             LIN
First Downs                                  13                16
Total Yards                                  298              232
Rushes-Yards                         36-173            31-58
Passing Yards                             125               174
Comp.-Att.-Int.                         8-14-1         16-29-1
Punts-Avg.                               5-36.6          3-39.6
Fumbles-Lost                              0-0              0-2
Penalties-Yards                          5-55            2-26

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Marshall, Cam Haller 26-171, Chavis Mills 7-12, Corteze Hurd 1-(-3), Bacardi Moore 1-(-7). LindaleRyan Taylor 16-78, Tayton Williams 8-15, Montana Meador 5-(-14), TEAM 2-(-21).
PASSING--Marshall, Haller 8-14-1--125. Lindale, Meador 16-29-1--174.
RECEIVING--Marshall, Trel Patton 4-75, Jaquavian Dabbs 2-34, Mills 2-16. LindaleKendrick Price Jr. 9-83, Williams 4-70, Cameron Sir Louis 2-17, Ty McDaniel 1-4.

Marshall celebrates with the bi-district championship trophy. (Geoff McKay, ETSN.fm)