LUFKIN - Capitalizing on three Lufkin turnovers, the Longview Lobos continued their trek toward the District 13-5A crown with a 17-0 shutout of the Panthers here Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
The win improves the No. 7 state-ranked Lobos to 7-0 and 4-0 in loop play. Lufkin falls to 2-4-1, 1-2, and for all practical purposes are eliminated from the district race.
Longview also snaps a two-game losing streak to the Panthers and wins for the first time in fourth yards against Lufkin. The Panthers triumphed in 1988 and '87, while both teams settled for a 10-10 tie in 1986.
Fumble recoveries by Cediric Davis and Mark Shirley, plus a Darren Robertson interception led to Longview's 17 points. Quarterback Kevin Madden tallied on a 2-yard run in the third quarter and then connected with reserve split end Kim Wallace for an 11-yard touchdown strike in the final frame. In-between, Dean Malone connected on a 35-yard field goal.
"Not only can you just force turnovers, you have to capitalize on them and that's what we did," said Longview head coach Robert Bero. "This is a very big win for us."
The Lobos were victorious in the spite of he fact that tailback Earnest Hunter was kept out of the end zone. The 5'11, 200-pound senior had scored 18 touchdowns on the year coming into Friday's game.
However, Hunter continued his marched toward his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season with 146 yards on 34 carries. He led a deliberate ground attack as he took the handoff on all but 17 of Longview's 51 rushing plays.
"They were right up there on the line (defensively). We knew at halftime that we had to play ball control, line up and run at them," Bero added. "Lufkin was a very physical team and we had to be physical right back."
Defensively, the Lobos came up with two fumbles recoveries and a pair of interceptions.
But it was a fumble recovery by the special teams which sealed Lufkin's fate. Following Malone's field goal, Cedric Walker dropped the ensuing kickoff and Shirley covered at the Panthers 18.
The Lobos then worked the ball on the ground, taking valuable time off the clock before Madden found Wallace alone in the end zone with 1:23 showing in the game.
After a 0-0 halftime score, which included four Lobo miscues, the ball quickly bounced Longview's way when Dwayne Castle fumbles on the Panthers' first play from scrimmage o the third quarter and Davis recovered at the Lufkin 21 yard line.
Six straight carries by Hunter eventually led to Madden diving up the middle from two yards out for a Longview touchdown. Malone kicked the point-after and the Lobos led 7-0.
In the drive, a crucial marking by the officials on a fourth-and-one play kept the drive alive.
Facing a fourth down at the 12 and needing one yard, Hunter appeared to be stopped short of the marker by Lufkin's defense. But an apparent second effort surge by Hunter gave Longview a first down on the 11.
The Panthers then put together a 64-yard march, their deepest penetration into Lobo territory. But after reaching the 34 right end Michael Rusk lost the handle after hauling in a 19-yard pass from quarterback Eric Acheson and Brian Chumley recovered for Longview.
The Panther would never threaten again.
The Lobos moved to a 10-0 lead after Robertson picked off an Acheson pass at Lufkin's 40-yard line. Again, Longview needed a clutch fourth down play to continue the drive.
With 4:41 left to play, Malone kicked his field goal. It was the team's first field goal try of the season.
Robertson's interception came in his first game back after being sidelined for three weeks.