LUFKIN - Coaches insist that previous games mean nothing when district play begins. They are right, the Longview Lobos learned Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
A fired-up and well-schemed Lufkin defense devoured Longview's bread-and-butter running game, aided by the Lobos' fumbles, and stunned the previously unbeaten visitors Friday, 20-0, in the 13-5A opener.
The game in a nutshell: Longview was held to 54 net yards rushing and nine passing, turning the ball over five times (three lost fumbles, two interceptions) and penetrated the Lufkin 40-yard line only once.
Longview took only two penalties, each a five-yarder, but each was crippling. The first one wiped out a first-down run and led to a Lobo punt. The second one, for roughing the punter, led to Lufkin's first score, in the second quarter.
Coach John Outlaw's Panthers (3-2-1) had a fourth-and-one at their 47 after that penalty. Punter Craig Bowser lined up to kick but saw no containment by the Lobos, so he scampered 12 yards around right end for a first down.
Lightning-quick sophomore quarterback Courtney Garcia scrambled for 12 yards a moment later, the Lobos' 20. Two plays after that, Garcia scrambled up the middle untouched, 16 yards for a touchdown.
The Lobos got the ball at their 16 with 1:55 left in the half and weren't content to run out the clock. Quarterback Lee Nix attempted a flat pas to his right on second down, but defensive back Michael James cut in front of a receiver who was slipping on the wet grass. James intercepted and literally strolled 26 yards into the end zone for another touchdown.
The snap was bad on the extra point, but Garcia picked it up and darted around rig the end for a two-point conversion.
The Lobos had driven to the Panthers' 47 early in the second quarter, but Isiah Stoker was crunched and fumbled. In the third quarter, Longview drove to the Lufkin 21, where Stoker fumbled. Both times, Dackron Jones recovered for Lufkin.
Roy Murphy capped the triumph for Lufkin by darting through a gaping hole and running 23 yards for the final touchdown, with 3:29 left in the game.
Stoker, who came into the game as the district's leading rusher, was schackled, especially on the toss play, and netted 59 yards on 22 carries.