LUFKIN - And so it came to pass
Friday night here at Abe Martin Stadium Longview quarterbacks David Henderson and Kirt Griffin, subbing for injured Chris Cotton, accomplished a feat Lobo fans may have considered a miracle.
No, they didn't part of the Red Sea, or even the Angelina River. Instead, the duo passed, yes passed, Longview to a 24-10 victory over Lufkin in a key District 13-AAAAA contest.
On Longview's second play Henderson and Tommie Taylor hooked up for a 17-yard scoring toss and a quick 7-0 lead.
Then, in the second quarter, Griffin drilled a 13-yard strike to Brian Williams on a third-and-12 play to set up a 4-yard touchdown blast by Thomas Stauts.
And finally, with time running out in the half, Griffin lobbed a 13-yard touchdown throw to Williams that gave the Lobos a 21-10 halftime lead.
Longview's vaunted defense took it from there, limiting the Panthers to just 37 total yards and one first down in the second half, as the Lobos improved their season record to 5-2.
More importantly, Longview remained unbeaten in district play ar 4-0 and appears on a collision course with John Tyler, who's also unbeaten.
Longview plays host to Marshall next week and then entertains John Tyler in a game which could decide the district crown.
Lufkin, meanwhile, fell to 4-3 for the season and 2-2 in district. The Panthers were one of the preseason favorites in 13-AAAAA, but with two losses and just three games left they're practically out of the race.
Some doubted Longview's diminutive offensive line would be effective against Lufkin's mammoth defense. After managing just 10 points against winless Nacogdoches last week, some said the Lobos offense couldn't score enough to beat the Panthers. Some said Longview was due for its first District 13-AAAAA loss.
Oh, ye of little faith. Pick against the Lobos? Blasphemy!
Although Johnny Hackney's 10-yard touchdown run in the second quarter ended Longview's string of 17 consecutive quarters without surrendering a touchdown, the Lobos played their best of the game. The 24 points were the most they've scored all season and their 231 yards total offense was among the best efforts of the year.
"Chris (Cotton) hurt his hand so, with Kirt in there tonight, I knew we had some new faces so we decided to open things," explained Longview coach Doug Cox. "He did well. I'm so proud of him. And Thomas Stauts (who started at fullback in place of ineligible Clyde Boyd) played well the whole game. It was a great football game."
An omen of things to come occurred on Lufkin's second play when Blake Parker and Cedric Polk botched the handoff and John Johnson claimed the fumble for Longview at the Lufkin 17-yard line.
One play later, Henderson came in at quarterback and lofted the touchdown pass to Taylor. The play was supposed to be a quarterback sweep, but the signals were crossed. Good thing.
Jason Baird tacked on the extra point and Longview led 7-0 less than two minutes into the contest. On the ensuing possession, Lufkin, aided by a roughing the punter and pass interception call, drove from its own 19 to the Longview 5-yard line in 15 plays.
But on third-and-two, cornerback Mike Adams made an outstanding play to nail Tim McClendon for a yard loss and the Panthers had to settle for Robert Skinner's 23-yard field goal with 1:35 left in quarter.
Lufkin almost took the lead on its next try when Polk broke loose on an apparent 49-yard touchdown run.
However, a holding penalty negated the play and the Panthers ultimately punted.
The Lobos took advance of their good fortune by marching to their second touchdown, a 7-play, 62-yard drive capped by Stauts' blast.
Key plays in the march were Williams' catch and a 31-yard scamper by Thomas Snoddy, the leading rusher with 77 yards, giving Longview first-and-goal at the 5.
Polk returned the following kickoff 49 yards and for the second week in a row kicker Jason Baird made a touchdown saving tackle.
However, that only delayed the score.
Seven plays later, Hackney blasted in from 10-yards out to score the first touchdown against the Lobos since the Trimble Tech game, the second of the season.
The PAT made it 14-10 with 3:13 to play.
But Longview wasn't finished yet.
Parker fumbled less than a minute before the half and Lonzell Williams recovered at the Lufkin 32.
Griffin scrambled for five yards on first down and a spearing penalty put Longview at the Lufkin 13.
On the next play, Griffin, who completed four-of-six passes for 74 yards, hit Williams with the back breaker just 15 seconds before intermission.
The fireworks weren't as numerous in the second half. Baird's 22-yard, third-quarter field goal was the only score, but Longview was impressive nonetheless.
The Lobo offensive line, which averages less than 180 pounds, dominated Lufkin's bigger defensive front.
"We got them intimidated," said Longview guard Undray Moore, a 5'7, 175-pounder. "We got them mad and tired and they were talking to each other. When they started talking to each other we took it to them."
Longview racked up seven first downs in the half, five on running plays.