You could argue that Jesuit had been waiting for a night like this for 15 years.
In 2004, Longview knocked the Rangers out of the playoffs in their first year in the UIL. Fast-forward to 2019, and Jesuit finally got its revenge.
The Rangers stunned the defending state champion Lobos 27-25 in a Class 6A Division II area round game on Friday at Kincaide Stadium, giving Jesuit perhaps its most impactful victory in program history.
Jesuit advances to play Klein Collins in the Region II quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 at McLane Stadium in Waco. Longview saw its 27-game winning streak snapped in upset fashion.
“We did enough to win,” said Jesuit head coach Brandon Hickman. “I knew Longview would make a push, but we kept fighting.”
The Rangers (8-4) lost all three previous matchups against Longview by margins of at least 30 points. Each of those games came in the same round of the playoffs, including on the same field in 2017.
Now, Jesuit finds itself in the third round of postseason play for the second time in 15 years — after not even making the playoffs last year.
E.J. Smith scored all four touchdowns for the Rangers while rushing for 164 yards on 26 carries. He might be only two weeks removed from surgery for a broken hand, but fortunately for Jesuit, his legs are just fine.
“He stepped up and played wonderful. I’m proud of him,” Hickman said. “We kept them under control up front, because they’ve got a great defense.”
Jesuit also made some big plays on defense and special teams. The Rangers contained an explosive Longview offense that racked up 75 points when the teams met two years ago. The Lobos (11-1) had scored at least 40 points in seven straight games prior to Friday.
The Rangers took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a pair of Smith scoring runs along with an interception by Jhalen Spicer in Longview territory. When the Lobos rallied with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, Jesuit blocked an extra point to preserve the lead.
That single point proved valuable as the team traded scores in the second half, with Longview never getting on even terms after failing on a pair of two-point conversion tries.
Rance Holman made some clutch throws for the Rangers to keep the chains moving. The biggest might have come on fourth-and-12 with under three minutes remaining, when he found Wyatt Garrett over the middle. With the Lobos out of timeouts, Jesuit was able to run out the clock.
In all, the final drive consumed 16 plays and more than eight minutes. The Rangers had just three possessions in the second half, but each featured at least eight time-consuming snaps.
Kaden Meredith paced Longview with 84 rushing yards and a touchdown. Haynes King added 68 yards and a score on the ground, and Shannon Jackson scored twice on short runs. King, who is committed to Texas A&M, struggled through the air, completing only five of 17 passes.