LONGVIEW - A simple bit of strategy paid off like a charm, and Lufkin had to play catchup for almost 46 minutes here Friday night. It never did and Longview went on to post tis second straight District 14-AAAAA shutout, a 19-0 decision, over the Panthers.
Coupled with an 80-yard Kyle Jones-to-Nate Harris pass play on the Lobos' opening snap, Clifford Ward's return to the lineup seemingly sharper than ever and a defense which is rapidly gaining a staunch reputation, the Lobos were never in any real danger, although they held only a 7-0 lead at the half-time intermission.
Jones, faking tailback Ronnie Hunter into the middle of the Panther defense not eh game's first play, lofted a soft pass to Harris, who was 10 yards behind the Lufkin secondary, and Longview found itself sitting at the Panthers' four-yard line with the game only slightly more than two minutes old. Two plays later, Hunter crashed over from the one. Michael Rosborough tacked on the point after and the Lobos were up by seven at the 9:14 mark.
"We saw in the Lufkin paper where Coach (Ed) Cauley said he expected us to run right at them all night long and try to out physical them," said Jones. "So, we just planned a pass play. We faked a blast right and their strong safety came up. Nathan was wide-open, I just had to make sure I didn't overthrow him."
The Lufkin defense recovered quickly and cornered Harris, but he cut back across the field and raced to the four before Greg Menefee brought him down. It only temporarily halted the inevitable, though.
Longview spent much of the remainder of the game doing exactly what Cauley had expected. Ward, Hunter and fullback Gahlen Johnson combined for 269 yards on the ground, with Ward, who did not start for the second week in a row, contributing 153 and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
The yardage and carries were Ward's best this season. "I knew I'd get to play," said Ward,"but I didn't know it would be as much. Things just kept going right."
The Lobos used Ward's touchdowns in the third and fourth periods to defeat an Ed Cauley-coached Lufkin team for the first time. The Panthers, 0-5 this season with Cauley in his fourth year at the helm, had defeated coach Doug Cox and the Lobos the last three years and four of the last seven times the two had employed since Cox was named field boss in 1974.
Ward's first touchdown came on the Lobos' initial possession of the second half, capping an eight-play, 68-yard march with 8:57 left in the quarter. Ward scored on a nifty 32-yard scamper with a pitch right play then cutting back across the grain to go in untouched.
His other score came with 6:52 left in the game, on a one-yard blast over right guard. The scoring drive covered 54 yards, took 11 plays and consumed 4:46 of the clock, as Ward carried nine times, including the last six in succession.
The "Mean Green" defense was as much a part of the victory, however, as was Ward and the offensive standouts.
Lufkin netted just 170 total yards and only 104 on the ground against the stingy Lobs, who have allowed just 212 total yards in two district games. The Panthers had just nine first downs and completed only five of 19 passes for 66 yards. Harris also had an interception.
"We feel like we're really starting to mesh," exclaimed defensive coordinator Robert Bero. "I can't single out any one player, because everybody played well.
"We felt like we could shut down their running game but we were worried about the big plays. I couldn't ask for better results."
Lufkin had gainers of 17 and 29 through the airways and Tony Watts, who was the Panthers' leading rusher, had gains of 17 and 23. Other than that, Lufkin posed no threat It ran only seven plays in the third quarter when Longview was increasing its lead to 13.
The Lobos will not play until next Saturday night, while the Panthers must return home to play host to undefeated Marshall Friday night.