LONGVIEW - Longview’s season started with a bang.
And then, some 47 minutes later, the Lobos walked away from Lobo Stadium with a 35-16 win over Lufkin in the season opener.
In between, some key plays – particularly from a disruptive night from the Lobo defense and some more fireworks from the offense – were the turning point in the meeting of the two rivals.
“We played well,” Longview head coach John King said. “It wasn’t pretty at time but that’s some first-game jitters and inexperience but we were able to beat a good football team tonight.
“Our kids made some key plays at key times.”
Junior Keilyn Williams started the night with a 98-yard kickoff return, giving the Lobos a quick 7-0 lead just 14 seconds into the game. Williams later added a 58-yard run, setting up a touchdown that made it a two-possession game.
“I’m not really surprised,” King said of Williams. “He had a crease and he hit it. He’s extremely tough and quick for his size.
“It was 14-10 at that time so his run was a key play for us.”
Defensively, a host of contributors bent but didn’t break, recording six stops on the plus side of the field, including holding Lufkin to a field goal on a run-heavy drive that featured 18 plays to open the second half.
Using a heavy rotation up front on the line, the Lobos were able to send Lufkin junior quarterback Kewone Thomas scrambling for most of the night, especially in the second half.
“They were disruptive and held up well,” King said. “We’ve got to tackle better, there were some times where we made contact at the line and didn’t get the stop.
“Just a strong showing from them overall and some key plays, once again.”
Longview rolled out all three quarterbacks, seniors Jordan Lawson and A’Darius Carter and sophomore Haynes King. All three played well, King said.
“I was pleased with all three and I saw great things from all three,” King said. “I think the people around them have to play better.
“We had some chances in there early when Jordan was in the game and didn’t get some blocks from the receivers and the line. AC came in and gave us another dimension. He’s a load and you saw us use some quarterback power there.”
Carter finished with a pair of punch-in touchdowns on runs of four and three yards. He went 4-for-4 through the air for 53 yards as the Lobos combined for 17 pass attempts.
In the second half, it was typical Lobo football with the run game, led by a strong showing from junior Jessie Anderson as the primary back. Anderson finished with 125 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown right up the middle.
Haynes King capped the night for a 48-yard touchdown pass to Kamden Perry on the sophomore’s first varsity attempt.
“We were able to get Haynes in there and get him some snaps,” King said of his son’s first varsity action. “We were trying to run a waggle pass to the tight end but he fell down and Haynes hit Kamden, probably the third option on that pass.
“It was special to see. That’s the first time I’ve given him a five on the field. Usually it’s a butt-chewing but I gave him five on that.”
After William’s 98-yard kickoff return to start the game, Lufkin went 62 yards on 10 plays for a 7-7 tie.
Both teams then exchanged punts before Jalen Carr pulled down a tipped ball for an interception.
Carter entered the game at quarterback and ripped off a 12-yard run and had an eight-yard pass to Perry. He capped the 11-play, 67-yard drive with a four-yard score for a 14-7 Lobo lead at halftime.
Lufkin chewed up nearly eight minutes off the clock to open the second half, running right at the Lobos before a goal line stand held the Panthers to a 19-yard field goal.
From there, it was the Lobo defense and a smashmouth run attack.
“For three-and-a-half quarters to hold Lufkin to 10 points with the talent they have, that’s pretty good.”
Carter’s second score, a three-yard run after Williams ripped a 58-yard blast made it 28-10.
Anderson, heading into the end zone where the 1997 state finalist team was watching, blasted a 33-yard run up the gut.
“It was good the see the 1997 team here tonight,” King said. “We got to play a little smashmouth for them there at the end.”