LUFKIN - When the going got tough, the Lufkin Panthers went to their main man in senior quarterback Robert Edwards. More times than not, the 6'1, 190-pounder came through in flying colors.
Edwards finished the night with 118 yards passing and 102 yards rushing, but more importantly, tossing one touchdown strike while running for another in leading the Panthers to a 13-3 win over the Longview Lobos here Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
Both lived up to their billing in front of more than 8,000 fans with intensity, emotion and just good hard hitting.
Leading 6-3 with 2:33 remaining, Edwards scored the clinched on a fourth-and-five play as he scampered untouched 33 yards around right end. Craig Wood added the extra point. Edwards' 30-yard run from the Lufkin 19 to the 49 was the key play as he turned a third-and-five into a first down. The touchdown came five plays later.
The Lobos never got their hands on the ball as Wood's onside kick bounced off lineman Tript Tidwell, and was recovered by Lufkin's Anthony Moye. It was Longview's only fumble of the game, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Come to think of it, Longview had several other events occur at the least opportune times, in penalties, an interception, and a third quarter stall.
Facing third-and-one at the Lufkin 13. Kyle Jones rammed the right side on a power play only to come up five inches short. Now, facing fourth-and-one, Gaylon Johnson carried the ball on the same play, only for what appeared to be the first down.
The officials proved otherwise as the chains showed the Lobos still lacked several inches.
The Lobos had driven 47 yards in 10 plays as on their first possession of the second half down to the Lufkin 13, turning the ball over on downs with 3:54 left in the third period. The Panther stop gave them momentum as they promptly moved down the field to the Longview 19. James Redden's second interception of the night at the five-yard line stopped Edwards and company once more. It looked like the big "MO" had turned the tide again, and with it came a bit of luck. Starting with an offsides penalty, a gain of six, a loss of nine, and then two more yards lost, Lufkin received a 5-yard penalty on Ray Delk's fourth down punt.
Kicking again, the Panthers were slapped with another 15-yarder for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Lobos were given new life at the Longview 46.
Clifford Ward, who finished the night with 47 yards on 14 carries, ran for five. Longview quarterback Derek Grant hit his only positive yardage completion to Eric Borders for another first down at the Lufkin 39. An offsides penalty and an eight-yard quarterback sack found the Lobos punting from the Lufkin 47 down to the Lufkin 13.
The Panthers are now 2-0 in District 14-AAAA, and 4-1 on the season. For the Lobos, the race isn't over as they gear for Tyler Lee next week, sporting a 1-1 record and 2-2-1 overall. Lufkin finished the night with 360 yards in total offense to the Lobos' 126 as the Panther defense sacked Grant three times for 24 yards in losses. When Grant did have the time, he didn't have the receivers, completing two of seven for eight yards. Johnson led the Lobos with 67 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
From the opening kickoff, the Lobos were ready to play on this night. Fumble recoveries by Chuck Tomberlain and Jimmy Hand halted two Panther drives in the first half.