LONGVIEW -- The season could've taken a negative turn one month ago for John Tyler. The Lions blew a 17-point lead in a district-opening loss to Rockwall, and one week later, the Lions lost starting running back Justin Samples to a concussion.

Samples has yet to return, but the John Tyler running game has not missed a beat. Thanks to sophomore Cameron Grant.

The super "soph" turned in his best performance to date Friday night in the Lions' biggest game of the year, rushing for 200 yards and two touchdowns to help JT to a crucial 38-24 win over Longview at Lobo Stadium.

“When your name is called, you’ve got to step up," said Grant, whose scored the game's first touchdown -- a 64-yard run -- on the Lions' fourth play. His 16-yard run in the fourth quarter gave the Lions a 31-17 advantage.

"I can’t get comfortable, I’ve just got to get better from here.”

Since taking over as the starter, Grant has rushed for 479 yards in three games.

John Tyler (7-1, 4-1 in District 11-6A) now has the inside track to the district's No. 1 seed and a home game in the first round of the 6A Division II playoffs, which begin in three weeks.

“It feels pretty good," said Lions coach Ricklan Holmes. "We lost that first district game and we’ve been trying to dig our way out of it. We have to continue to win and keep ourselves in place to make sure we at least have a piece of that district championship.”

Longview (6-2, 4-1) had its six-game winning streak snapped and lost at home in district for the first time under head coach John King, who took over in 2004.

“It’s a big win, but it’s bittersweet though," Holmes said. "I was going up against one of my mentors in (Longview coach) John King, a guy that helped me out my first year as a rookie head coach. He gave me some great advice, and I used that my first year, and I’ve been using it ever since.”

John Tyler quarterback and Houston commit Bryson Smith passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and added 93 yards on 14 rushing attempts.

Both of Smith's scoring tosses came in the second quarter, and helped the Lions to a 21-10 halftime lead. Smith hooked up with Damion Miller, a Texas pledge for a 7-yarder for a 14-7 lead, and later with Michael Givens-Washington from 22 yards.

Miller finished with seven catches for 92 yards, while Givens-Washington had four receptions for 80 yards.

Longview had a chance to trim John Tyler's lead just before the half, but Lions' defensive end Howard Hawkins recovered a fumble at the JT 3-yard line with 1:39 to play in the half.

“That’s important," Holmes said of the turnover, the only one of the game. "Any time you’ve got momentum, you’ve got something on your side you can build on. And going in (to halftime) we knew we could build on that.”

The Lobos did score on their first possession of the third quarter, driving 68 yards in just six plays and scoring on a Kendrevian White 4-yard tun, which cut the Lions' lead to 24-17 less than three minutes into the second half.

Longview managed just 98 yards the rest of the way, as John Tyler clamped down on the Lobos' ground game. Longview came into Friday averaging more than 330 rushing yards per game, but finished with just 159 against John Tyler.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game, they’re a good football team, and they’re a good running team," said John Tyler linebacker Shaundrick Williams, who recorded two sacks on the night. "And when you’re so used to run, run, run, when you throw it, it’s kind of difficult."

White led Longview with 122 yards on 18 carries. Lobos quarterback Gaylon Wiley passed for 195 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked twice on third down in the second half.

“Our secondary at first didn’t succeed, but eventually we got it back and had to play as a team and be disciplined together," Williams said. "When we got comfortable, we started playing together, and things started happening.”

With JT clinging to a 24-17 early in the fourth quarter, the Lions took advantage of a 24-yard punt and took over at the Longview 47. Three consecutive Grant runs netted 16 yards, and four plays later on third-and-4, he ran into the end zone from 16 yards to give the Lions a two-touchdown advantage.

Three consecutive Longview incompletions on the ensuing series resulted in a punt, and John Tyler moved 65 yards in four minutes, taking a 38-17 lead on Tre Allison's 1-yard run with 2:58 to play.

Longview scored quickly when Wiley hit tight end Jaylin Brown for a 71-yard touchdown, but John Tyler recovered the onside kick and ran out the reminder of the clock.

“It was a tough game, and we knew that coming in here," Holmes said. "We just had to try to make a little more plays than they did. And I feel like we did that tonight.”

Grant set the tone for John Tyler by carrying on the first four plays. His 64-yard burst gave the Lions a 7-0 lead a little more than a minute into the game.

“The way their defense was set up, the middle was wide open," Grant said. "We were just hitting it up the middle, and I just split the two safeties.”

Longview tied the game on its second possession when Wiley connected with fullback Trajan Bush out of the backfield for a 37-yard touchdown.

John Tyler answered with its longest drive of the night. The 12-play, 75-yard march that lasted 3:58 ended with Smith's 7-yard touchdown toss to Miller for a 14-7 lead seconds into the second quarter.

Chris Kessler drilled a 42-yard field to cut the Lobos' deficit to 14-10 on the next drive, but JT answered on the ensuing series when Smith hit a wide-open Givens-Washington on a wheel route for a 22-yard touchdown.

Both teams return to the field next Friday night. John Tyler hosts Mesquite Horn (5-3, 3-2), while Longview plays at Rockwall-Heath (5-3, 3-2).


John Tyler 38, Longview 24

At Lobo Stadium, Longview

John Tyler             7    14      3    14    --    38
Longview              7      3      7      7    --    24

First Quarter
JT--Cameron Grant 64 run (Devan Salazar kick), 10:49.
LON--Trajan Bush 37 pass from Gaylon Wiley (Chris Kessler kick), 3:21.
Second Quarter
JT--Damion Miller 7 pass from Bryson Smith (Salazar kick), 11:23.
LON--FG Kessler 42, 7:07.
JT--Michael Givens-Washington 22 pass from Smith (Salazar kick), 5:40.
Third Quarter
LON--Kendrevian White 4 run (Kessler kick), 9:24.
JT--FG Salazar 38, 5:29.
Fourth Quarter
JT--Grant 16 run (Salazar kick), 7:31.
JT--Tre Allison 1 run (Salazar kick), 2:58.
LON--Jaylin Brown 71 pass from Wiley (Kessler kick), 2:12.

                                       JT                 LON
First Downs                      25                    16
Total Yards                      562                  354
Rushes-Yards            46-326             35-159
Passing Yards                 236                  195
Comp.-Att.-Int.         17-27-0             6-14-0
Punts-Avg.                  1-33.0             4-30.5
Fumbles-Lost                   1-0                  2-1
Penalties-Yards              5-45                3-15

RUSHING--John Tyler, Cameron Grant 21-200, Bryson Smith 14-93, Tre Allison 8-20, Kiante Stoker 2-7, Michael Givens-Washington 1-6. Longview, Kendrevian White 18-122, Trajan Bush 3-25, Jessie Anderson 4-7, D'Crayvan Polk 2-6, Gaylon Wiley 8-(-1).
PASSING--John Tyler, Smith 17-27-0--236. Longview, Wiley 6-14-0--195.
RECEIVING--John Tyler, Damion Miller 8-92, Devlen Woods 5-48, Givens-Washington 4-80, Jaivon Williams 1-16. Longview, Jaylin Brown 2-89, Eric Timberlake 1-45, Bush 1-37, Anderson 1-13, Kamden Perry 1-9.

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