LONGVIEW - Three big plays accounted for all the scoring as Longview and Lufkin kicked off the District 15-5A race Friday night.
Fortunately for Longview, two belonged to the Lobos in perhaps, a tougher-than-expected 14-6 triumph at Lobo Stadium.
Longview improves to 5-1 for the season, while Lufkin falls to 1-5.
It was a contest that included seven turnovers and kept both punters from each team busier than usual. Levin Fuller had eight punts for Longview, while Bob Baldwin was called upon seven.
The Lobos scored on a 70-yard reverse to LaMarcus White on their first play from scrimmage, and then Devin Lawson found himself wide open in the Panther secondary for a 40-yard touchdown reception from Chris Judy late in the third quarter.
The Panthers' lone points came on a 45-yard catch by Damari Bryant off a tipped pas from Jason Carter to Ada Toups to start the final quarter.
Between the scoring drives which accounted for one, seven and four plays, respectively, Longview lost three fumbles, while Lufkin turned over a pair and also threw two interceptions.
It thus came down to a defensive struggle, as both teams were trying to avert each others mistakes.
"I don't think Lufkin's record was indication of the type of defense they had," said Longview coach Robert Bero. "They've played well al year long, defensively.
"They've had some pointed scored on them off the kicking game and interceptions. They have an outstanding defensive football team. They have good size and some good players in their front four, and it gave us fits."
The Lobos' interception of a Carter pass by White, set up the Judy-to-Lawson touchdown. Cory Hutchings picked off the other in the opening half.
Gaylong Hyder provided another big play for Longview, blocking Rob Baldwin's 28-yard field goal attempt with 10:43 remaining. It followed a Lobo fumble at their own 12-yard line after the Panthers had cut the deficit to 14-6.
With injuries to their starting backfield, Lufkin was forced to throw the ball, with Carter, a sophomore who was only called up from the junior varsity this past week, completing 6 of 17 for 95 yards.
"It was a difficult position to be in," according to Lufkin coach Jim Slaughter.
"So when everyone in the stadium knows what you're going to do, it's hard to do it," Slaughter said. "I thought we played extremely well on offense, considering we were so banged up. Defensively, the kids played their hearts out."
Despite the absence of points, the Lobos did wear town the clock behind Amond Hutchings, who went over the 100-yard mark for the fourth time this season, with 111 on 29 carries.
Quarterback Chris Judy extended his passing numbers with a 7 of 12 performance, completing his last six in a row, for 105 yards.
Take away one play and the first half was one of mistakes for both teams as the Lobos took a less-than stirring 7-0 score into the dressing room.
Lufkin drove into Lobo territory on six of its seven possession in the first half. However, a fumbled pass reception at Longview's 35, after a 33-yard pass completion, and then Hutchings' interception of a pass at the 47 killed two of the drives.
Two fumbles ended a pair of Lobo drives ion the Panthers' end of the field.