LONGVIEW - Opportunity knocked three times for the Lobos Friday night, but managed to scamper away before the Green Wave had a chance to open the door. As a result, a superior Longview grid team was forced to content itself with a disappointing 0-0 tie with Lufkin's Purple Panthers in a drab ball game played before a sellout crowd of 7,500 customers.
An epidemic of fumbles took the sting out of what appeared to be a flashy Lobo offense. On three separate occasions the Lobo eleven bulled their way to within the shadows of the Lufkin goal posts. On two of those three attempts, they managed to lose possession of the ball on first down due to fumbles. The third time, a surprisingly tough Panther forward wall dug in and stopped the threat two yards short of a touchdown.
Longview kicked off to start the ball game, Billy McCall returning Sonny Jones' boot 16 yards to the Panther 36. When two running plays failed to gain, McCall punted to Jones who was downed on the Green Wave's 35. Johnny Linney immediately hit Don Huff with a pass good for six yards, but was tossed for a five yard loss on the next play. Following an incomplete pass, Jones kicked to McCall. Once more Longview held and Lufkin kicked. Three plays later, Jones went back to return the compliment, but center Otis Alexander and end Gilmer Spring came in to block the punt. The Panthers gained possession on the Lobo 32. They reached the Longview 14 yard stripe before losing the ball on downs.
Longview went to work in the second stanza as Linney passed the Angelina county visitors dizzy. On the opening play of the second quarter, lanky Johnny nailed Jones with a 22 yard aerial, then he hit Ronnie Lemmons with an eight yard toss. When the drive stalled 37 yards away from pay dirt, Linney angled a beautiful coffin corner kick out of bounds on the Lufkin two yard marker. McCall immediately booted to the Longview 23, and Linney flipped a beautiful pass to Billy Shaw who made a sensational grab of the ball on the Lufkin three yard line. Linney sent Jones into the line, and the usually dependable Sunshine Special fumbled. Lufkin recovered and McCall punted again, his kick traveling to the Panther 36.
Linney was dumped for a 10 yard loss by Lufkin lineman who leaked through the Lufkin forwards like a sieve, but Johnny pitched 17 yards to Jud McRae on the next play. Don Huff took a handoff and scooted 18 yards to the Panther 12 before safety man McCall hauled hi in. Jones hit the middle for four yards and Linney tossed to Sonny for tow more. Then Linney grabbed off two yards off tackle. With fourth down coming up and two needed for a first down, Linney called for a pass. He located Ken Veach standing on the goal line and tossed him a strike, but the over-anxious Veach allowed the ball to drip through his fingers, and Lufkin took over.
Three plays failed to gain for the Purple Panthers and McCall punted 39 yards to Huff, who returned nicely to the Lufkin 35. Linney got six off tackle and tommy Sanford ripped off seven around the end. Jones moved the ball six yards to the enemy 17, then Linney completed a 10 yard pass to Jones on the Panther six yard line.
This time, the Lobos missed their final scoring opportunity of the night as Linney elected for un the ball and fumbled on first down. Lufkin recovered and McCall got off a beautiful 59 had spiral, which set the Green Wave back to its own 32 yard line.
The second half was a see-saw affair which was featured by bruising line play by both forward walls. Captain Wade Pointer, man-mountain Lobo tackle and scrappy Jim McDougald, 143 pound Lufkin guard, were outstanding.
Charley Malone, huge reserve lineman who played a major portion of the game in the spot vacated by the injured Tommy Bufkin, also showed up well in the Longview line.
Speedy Billy Hudibourgh, Lufkin safety man, thrilled the crowd with his beautiful punt returns. Hudibourgh ran rings around the Lobo wingmen who went down under Jones' punts, and gained more than a hundred yards returning Jones' kicks.