TYLER - Longview head coach John King had a challenge for the Lobos entering Friday’s highly touted matchup with the Lufkin Panthers to open the postseason.
He got the response he was looking for from the Lobos.
“We had a spark tonight,” King said. “We talked about needing that spark and who was it going to be that got the fire started.
“And it was everybody.”
Longview’s defense turned in a dominate night that was matched by the run game as the Lobos rolled past rival Lufkin, 31-10, in a Class 5A, Region II, Division I bi-district meeting at Rose Stadium in Tyler.
With the win, Longview advances to the second round of the postseason for the 10th-straight year where they will meet Mansfield Summit at 7:30 p.m. Friday at DeSoto High School.
Longview and Lufkin, meeting for the 78th time and ninth time in the postseason, traded blows in the opening half, sending the contest to halftime knotted at 10-10.
Lufkin held a 204-182 advantage in total yards through the first two quarters. In the second half, it was the Lobos flipping that number, totaling 183 offensively and holding Lufkin out of the end zone and to 65 total yards.
The Lobos turned to their strength, running the ball 49 times to the tune of 342 yards. Longview came away with five turnovers – three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“We got some turnovers and were able to get on the plus side of the field,” King said. “We got the lead, started grinding the clock and wore them down there at the end. It was a tough ballgame. They fought back and our guys kept plugging away.”
Braylynn Anthony led the Lobo rushing charge, finishing with 159 yards on 13 carries with a pair of scores. Tyler Miller totaled 89 yards and a touchdown while Austin Moore finished with 52 yards on nine totes and a touchdown.
Defensively, defensive lineman Stacy Nelson and defensive backs Travian Clayborn and Ameron Dean had interceptions. Kybrin Sheridan and Ja’Quavion Faggans recovered fumbles for the Lobo defense, which held the Panthers to 18 rushing yards in the second half.
“I thought the defensive line did a great job all night long trying to get pressure on the quarterback and crushing the pocket,” King said. “They did a great job pressuring the quarterback into some throws. The best pass defense is a good pass rush, like I’ve always said. Kybrin Sheridan played like a wild banshee tonight.”
After completing 11-for-21 pass attempts for 85 yards, a touchdown and a pair of interceptions, Lufkin quarterback Kordell Rodgers left the game early in the third quarter and did not return.
Cody Jenkins connected on a 36-yard field goal to open the contest and Lufkin responded with a field goal of their own from 43 yards Rodrigo Molina.
Longview then had a quick three-and-out and the Panthers went on the march before Nelson pulled down an interception at the Lobo 30-yard line.
The next play, Anthony hit the edge was and 50 yards to paydirt to put Longview ahead, 10-3, with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
On the next Panther possession, Clayborn pulled down an interception at the Lobo 44 but the Lobos failed to capitalize with a quick three-and-out.
On 3rd and 14, Rodgers found Javante Ellington for a 20-yard touchdown to tie the game, 10-10.
Sheridan had a tackle for loss on Lufkin’s first possession of the second half and, after a five-yard punt, Longview went to work with a short field. Michael Ross had a 17-yard run, setting up Moore’s 11-yard score to put the Lobos ahead, 17-10, with 9:30 left in the third – a lead they would not relinquish.
With Rodgers on the sideline, Lufkin went three-and-out and the Lobos marched 60 yards on nine plays with Miller punching in a five-yard score to make it24-10 at the end of the third.
Sheridan scooped up a fumble and, six plays and 70 yards later, Anthony was in the end zone on an 11-yard run on 4th and 9 for the contest’s final score sending the Lobos forward in the postseason.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys that don’t want this to end,” King said. “They’re going to have to fight, scratch and claw each week to find a way to win the ballgame. They did that tonight.”