LONGVIEW - It's only one in a series of big battles ahead, but Longview head coach Robert Bero wanted his Lobos to briefly enjoy Friday night's 20-18 win over Lufkin.
In the end, it was Fred Talley's speed and quickness, Tajuan Stoker's ability to find the end zone and a healed Dexter Daniels filling the passing lanes that sent Longview to its District 12-5A opening victory at Lobo Stadium. The Lobos (5-1) also got a measure of revenge on the team that kept them out of the playoffs the last two years.
"You still have to improve every week," said hero. "That's what we talked to them about after we came in here (after the game). We want them to enjoy this victory tonight, but we've got to go to work on Monday and get better. There's a lot of big battles left out there in front of us."
Talley went over 100 yards rushing for the third consecutive week as the sophomore collected 155 on 17 carries. He also scored once, taking a pitch from quarterback Jay Hurst from three yards out for what proved to be the game-winner with 7:49 remaining.
Stoker, who starts ahead of Talley at tailback, scored twice on runs of eight and one yard. The senior finished with 66 yards on 19 carries.
But, it was the early passing success and Hurst and Daniels that opened up the running game for the Lobos. Talley and Stoker helped Longview to 240 yards on the ground.
Daniels, the H-back, had missed the last two games because of a rib injury. However, he returned to catch five passes for 54 yards. Hurst, who went the distance at quarterback for the first time this season, was 6 of 14 for 61 yards.
"Dexter is a great receiver," Hurst said. "They war employing a zone defense and he was just getting in their weak spots
.we were just connecting on their weak spots."
A pair of first-down receptions by Daniels opened Longview's first two scoring drives.
But it was the passing of Lufkin (4-1) that led to the game's first touchdown and then put it back ahead in the third quarter. Quarterback Kedrick Dixon tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Shepherd with 3:08 remaining in the opening quarter. However, the Lobos' Shawn Byrdsong blocked Dusty Kennedy's extra point attempt.
Longview didn't get on the scoreboard until there was 1:27 left before halftime.
A shanked punt by Lufkin set the Lobos' up at the Panthers' 40-yard line. Daniels' fourth reception moved the ball to the 33, and then Talley raced 20 yards to the 13. Two plays later, Stoker scored. Erin Roerecke's point-after put the Lobos ahead, 7-6.
A 35-yard halfback option pass from backup quarterback Courtney Garcia to Shepherd put Lufkin back in the lead, 12-7, at the 8:28 mark of the third quarter. A two-point conversion try failed.
Stoker then Longview on an 87-yard, nine-play drive with 2:04 showing in the third. The Lobos also went for two, but were stopped short.
Talley's fourth quarter touchdown and Reorecke's extra point pushed the margin to eight points, 20-12.
A second halfback option pass, this time for 33 yards from Garcia to Michael White, keyed a 52-yard, five-play Panther scoring drive. It had appeared that Longview cornerback Lee Jackson made the interception on White's catch, but it was ruled a joint-possession and the Panthers kept their drive alive. Garcia finished off the series with an 8-yard touchdown run.
Garcia also carried on the two-point conversion, which would have tied the game, but Longview's Bryan Templeton tackled him.