LUFKIN - Lining up against a bitter rival to open the season Friday night, the Lobos knew they were in for a battle to get the 2014 slate started.
While a potent Lufkin team provided some problems for a young and inexperienced Longview team, it was the Lobos in the end that were their own biggest enemy.
Knotted at 14-14 with under five minutes left in the opening half, the Panthers rattled off 17 unanswered points in the final two minutes of the half en route to a 44-14 win over the Lobos at Abe Martin Stadium, marking the third-straight season that Longview has opened 0-1.
“We played better but we made too many mistakes tonight — mistakes you can’t afford to make against a team like Lufkin at home, a tough place to play,” Longview head coach John King said.
While the final score was far from the Lobos’ favor, the start was as good as you could ask for. Longview opened the 75th meeting of the rivals with a six-play, 78-yard march, highlighted by a 52-yard pass from Dezmond Chumley to tight end Emmanuel Gordon. Tylan Miller punched the score in from two yards out to put the Lobos up quickly.
Lufkin immediately answered with a 10-play, 77-yard march of their own to knot the contest 7-7 with 5:36 left in the opening stanza.
On the second play of their second possession, a Lufkin defensive lineman tipped a Chumley pass into the hands of Jacob Mark at the Longview 29-yard line.
Four plays later, the Panther capitalized on the first of three Longview turnovers to take the lead, 14-7. Ten of Lufkin’s points resulted from a Lobo turnover in the contest.
“Every turnover on the negative end of the field was costly,” King said. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Back-and-forth defensive stands, including a third-and-two stop from Lobo linebacker Jaylon Jackson, put the Lobos at their own 27 with 7:39 left in the opening half. Using nine running plays, the Lobos carved the field on the legs of Miller and Marquies Hunter, tying the contest, 14-14, on a two-yard run from Chumley with 4:20 left until the break.
Lufkin’s Steven Sowell, who rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries on the night, broke of a 16-yard run before quarterback Trey Cumbie completed his eighth-straight pass to KeKe Coutee to put Lufkin back on top, 21-14, with 1:58 left on the clock.
Longview coughed up its second fumble on the very next play at their own 30-yard line. But the Lobo defense held on three plays before Lufkin’s Javier Montes split the uprights from 42 yards away for 10 points for the Panthers in under 30 seconds off the clock.
The Lobo offense stalled near midfield, forcing a punt – a 41-yarder from Andres Perez – to Coutee at the Lufkin 14-yard line. Coutee turned on the jets, navigating the field for an 86-yard score, quickly making it 31-14 heading into the break.
Perez would add a 51-yard punt in the fourth quarter.
Cumbie continued his hot start in the second half, finishing 16-for-20 on the night for 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the last coming on a 29-yard strike to Terry Mark in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Coutee finished with six catches for 105 yards and Mark added 64 yards on five receptions.
The Lobos’ second lost fumble midway through the third quarter resulted in a goal-line stand from the defense.
Miller, filling in for an injured JaMycal Hasty, finished with 158 yards on 22 carries. Hunter had 28 rushing yards to go along with 27 yards in the air.
King was pleased with the effort of his team, which returns a handful of starters all around.
“They fought hard and there was some improvement but we’ve still got some work to do,” King said. “I think our kids have the right attitude about things and they’re ready to go back to work on Monday.”
Longview hosts John Tyler on Friday at Lobo Stadium while Lufkin visits Tyler Lee.