The Red Raiders were upended 54-26 on Friday in Longview to now sit at 3-2 overall and 0-2 in District 11-6A.
Tyler Lee overcame a slow start and was about to tie the game against the Lobos in the closing seconds of the first half after a 41-yard halfback pass for a touchdown from Kameron Ross to Lanthony Simmons.
That made it 14-13 Lobos with only the PAT remaining to tie it up with 39 seconds left in the half.
Instead, a mishandled snap led to a fumble recovery by Longview’s Jalen Carr, who returned it the other way for two points.
Longview then continued the momentum switch with a big kickoff return that ultimately set up kicker Chris Kessler for a 46-yard field goal and 19-13 Lee deficit at halftime.
“The whole momentum switched just like that. The whole game changed,” Robert E. Lee head coach Kurt Traylor said of the fumble on the PAT. “It sort of kills the momentum we had going into halftime.”
Traylor did not credit the missed extra point for costing Lee the game, adding the Red Raiders were “physically dominated on both sides of the ball.”
“I thought the first half we fought toe to toe with them, but in the second half we didn’t box very well,” Traylor said. “The offensive line and defensive line both got it handed to them.”
After holding Longview to 96 yards rushing in the first half, the Lobos produced 208 yards on the ground in the second half.
“We had trouble lining up on some stuff defensively, and that’s on us as a staff, not the players,” Traylor said. “We need to get that fixed and we will.”
The Red Raiders fell behind 33-13 in the third quarter, but fired back with an 84-yard drive in which Lee converted three third downs, capped by a third-and-goal, 4-yard TD pass from Chance Amie to Simmons. In the fourth quarter, Lee’s Nickalous McGrew returned a fumble 76 yards for a touchdown.
Traylor said one prevailing thing to come out of the loss was Lee’s refusal to lie down, adding the players were ready to go to work and improve early Saturday in preparation for this week’s game against district unbeaten Mesquite Horn.
“We had the best practice we’ve had since I have been here (Tuesday),” Traylor said. “The kids are fighting. They believe in the system. We’re as talented as any other team, and when it starts clicking, it’s going to be fun.
“It could be this week, it could be the week after. We’re close. Our senior leadership has picked up. All the things you are looking for.”
The Red Raiders are home against Mesquite Horn (4-1, 2-0), which has outscored its first two league opponents -- Longview and Mesquite -- by a combined 94-51.
Lee and Horn will tee it up at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
“There is no team that is just (completely) dominant in this district. Horn is a little better than all of us, but on a given night, anybody can beat anybody right now,” Traylor said. “We have to keep getting better; keep on making little steps. Keep pounding the stone and chunks will keep flying off a little bit at a time.
“I am excited because the potential is there to be really, really good.”