LUFKIN - Coach Swede Dee's Longview Lobos, who are sometimes down but never out, got off the floor in a resounding reversal of form to stage a spectacular fourth quarter comeback and nose out the Lufkin Panthers of District 5-AAA here Friday night, 7-6.
The Lobos trailed Lufkin 6-0 throughout most of the game and apparently were hanging on the ropes late in the third period when they staved off a serious scoring threat by the Panthers that would have put the game out of Longview's reach.
But with ten minutes of play remaining in the final quarter the Lobos turned what appeared to be certain defeat into a thrill-packed victory when they staged a tremendous 97-yard drive to pay dirt with the air of Quarterback Jerry Matthews' sharp passing and a sizzling 33-yard jaunt by Billy Wayne Dodson.
Just before Longview launched its game-winning touchdown drive, the Panthers had pushed their way down to the visitors' three-yard line with first and goal to go but at that point the Lobos staged another of their magnificent goal line stands to hold for downs and take possession of the ball.
Longview then marched straight downfield to Lufkin's ten and Matthews fired a pass to end Claude Pliler on the one. Pliler snatched the ball away from two Lufkin defenders and fought his way across the goal line for a touchdown to the score at 6-6.
With victory riding on the try for extra point end Jerry Barnes came off the bench to attempt the conversion and booted a soaring kick straight between the uprights for the winning margin.
The victory was the second for the Lobos in as many outings and marked the second straight time they have come from behind to win. They copped their season's opener a week earlier from Port Neches, 19-13.
The defeat was the second in a row for the Panthers, who lost their opener last week to the Marshall Mavericks, another District 4-AAA, 19-6.
The game was played on a slippery field that made ball handling dangerous after the turf was left soggy following afternoon thundershowers, although footing was firm. The wet ball practically nullified the passing attack of both teams, although the Lobos connected twice through the air for a total of 24 yards during their fourth quarter touchdown march.
Lufkin frequently threaded but the rugged Longview defense invariably braced within the shadows of its own goal posts and the Panthers were able to score their touchdown only with the air of costly fumble by the Lobos just before the end of the first half.
With four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Lufkin made a lightning-like scoring bid when quarterback David Holt fired a flat zone pass to halfback Bob Wagner for a 57-yard gian with Wagner eating up most of the distance on a beautiful run in which he completely reversed his field and appeared head for a touchdown before co-captain Martin (Jeep) Reynolds ran him down from behind on Longview's second yard.
In three plays, the Panthers reached the one-yard stripe but on fourth down Bob McCall was downed behind the line by L.T. Mobbs and the Lobos gained possession on their own three.
Two plays later, however, the Lobos fumbled trying to run the ball out from behind their own goal line and Bill Brookshire recovered for the Panthers on Longview's one. A five-yard offside penalty set the Panthers back to the six, but R.V. Holleman skipped through guard from there to score standing up with 61 seconds left in the half. Bolt's placement kick on the try for extra point was low.
After the Lobos pushed across their touchdown early in the fourth period and Barnes converted the all-important extra point, the Panthers came right back with a 44-yard drive that penetrated to Longview's 15-yard line with four and a half minutes left in the game.
But once again the Lobos were equal to the occasion and threw up a tock-ribbed goal line stand that stopped Lufkin cold. Finally on fourth down center Tommy Hagan smeared Holt back of the line and the Lobos took over on their own 26-yard stripe.
As time was running out the fired-up Lobos launched a scoring drive of their own and with Matthews turning in two sparkling gallops the winners were threatening and had pushed their way to Lufkin's 25-yard line at the final whistle.
Longview was unable to get its offense into operation in the first half and made only one first down while gaining but 29 yards in the opening two periods, but the Lobos began to roll in the second half and kept the upper hand all the way after the intermission.
Both teams chalked up nine first down apiece wheel Lufkin had a net gain of 222 yards from scrimmage against 150 for Longview. The Lobos gained 107 yard shushing and 43 through the air as compared to 134 rushing and 88 passing by the Panthers.
Longview was without the services of co-captain Dick Nash for most of the game after the speedy tailback suffered a kick on the head in the first quarter and sat out the remained of the contest on the sidelines. It was at first feared that Nash sustained a brain concussion and he was rushed back to Longview immediately after the game. However, x-rays revealed no serious injury.
Reynolds was also injured when he was tackled while catching a vital pass in Longview's touchdown march and was carried from the field with a pulled muscle in his leg but it appeared that the injury would prove only a minor one. Both Nash and Reynolds are expected to be ready for action when the Lobos shoot for their third victory of the season without a defeat against the Denison Yellowjackets at Longview Friday night.