LUFKIN - Fred Talley rushed for two touchdowns and Jay Hurst connected twice with Jamie Brown for a pair of scores as the Longview Lobos rallied to beat Lufkin 28-17 Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
The game, which matched No. 3 ranked Longview and No. 5 Lufkin, lived up to its billing before a sellout crowd of 9,300 as both teams opened District 12-5A play.
The Lobos (6-0) trailed 17-6 at halftime after allowing the Panthers 214 yards total offense in the opening half. But Longview's defense stood its ground, and Hurst and Talley went to work on offense in the final two quarters.
After a missed field goal on the Lobos' opening possession of the second half, Longview got a break as Lufkin quarterback Courtney Garcia fumbled. Almarcus Williams fell on the ball at the Longview 44-yard line.
Hurst and Brown went went to the air. A 9-yard toss moved the ball inside Lufkin territory. A Hurst-to-Brown pass for 24 yards and three carries by Talley for 18 yards gave the Lobos a first-and-goal from the Panther 5-yard line.
Brown then finished off the 6-play drive as Hurst found him on a slant pattern for the touchdown. Going for the two-point conversion, Hurst bootlegged around the right side of the line for a 17-14 deficit with 2:07 remaining in the third quarter.
One series later, Longview got together its longest drive of the game, going 79 yards in six plays as Hurst and Brown combined for a 35-yard touchdown completion. A 15-yard face mask call against the Panthers moved the ball across the midfield stripe. The point-after by Erin Roerecke gave the Lobos their first lead since the first quarter at 21-17.
"That was the big thing, we started getting that one-on-one coverage out there," said Longview coach Robert Bero. "They were playing back off of us and we were hitting some things underneath. Then they tightened up the corners and we started going over the top of them.
"It was a great job of throwing and catching. We also got a little pitch play (to Talley) going outside with some unbalanced looks. We made some big plays. But more than that what we called, it was a great character test, I think, for our football team to battle back against a good football team."
Both of Lufkin's two scores came through the air, but they finished 4 of 14 passing for 59 yards.
An 8-yard sack of Garcia by William Morrison forced the Panthers to try to rally through the air. However, Almarcus Williams and Dexter Daniels battled away Garcia's last hope as the Lufkin signal-caller went deep on fourth-and-15 from Longview's 44 yard line.
Talley then put the game out of reach with a 56-yard sprint up the right sideline on the Lobos' first play from scrimmage after the Panthers turned the ball over on downs.
Talley finished with 182 yards on 22 carries, picking up 150 on the ground in the second half alone. Hurst was 8 of 13 for 150 yards passing.
Longview scored the game's opening points as Talley ran in from six yards out. Lufkin (5-1) won the coin toss, but deferred to the second half and kicked off to the Lobos.
The drive covered 72 yards in seven plays. Consecutive procedure calls against Longview moved the ball back to its own 18-yard line. However, Hurst went up top for a 47-yard pass completion to Jamille Butcher.
Three plays later, Hurst and Butcher connected again with for 12 yards and a first down at the Panthers' six-yard line to set up Talley's seventh touchdown of the season.
But a celebration call against the Lobos in the end zone drew a 15-yard penalty. David Monsivais' extra point attempt from 35 yards was wide to the left.
Lufkin, however, answered back as the Panthers put together a seven-play, 74-yard drive. Sparky Hamilton hung onto Garcia's 26-yard throw in to the end zone for the tying touchdown with 6:35 showing in the first quarter. David Koch added the point-after as the Panthers took a 7-6 lead.
With 10:48 left in the first half, Garcia went to the air for his second touchdown, this time to Brian Bradford for a 12-yard scoring play.
One series later, the Panthers went on a time-consuming 65-yard drive. Koch finished off the 16-play series with a 17-yard field goal at the 2:14 mark.
Lufkin had a first-and-goal at the Longview two, but couldn't punch the ball into the end zone. Lobo free safety Lee Jackson made a crucial defensive play on third down from the one-yard line with a solid hit on Lufkin's Cory Hadnot.