LUFKIN - Despite the efforts of its defense, Longview's offense sputtered until late int he game as the Lobos couldn't play catch up with Lufkin in a 17-7 loss Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
A pair of Simeon Garcia touchdown passes to DeMarques Jones were the difference as Lufkin (6-1, 2-0) moved into sole possession of first place in District 12-5A race by a half game over Nacogdoches, which takes on John Tyler today. Longview (3-4) dropped to 1-1 in league play.
The Lobos won the statistical battle, out gaining the Panthers in total yards (235-225) and first downs (14-9). Unfortunately not on the scoreboard, where Jone scored on receptions of 16 and 45 yards, and Shawn Todd kicked a 25-yard field goal.
"I thought our defense played hard and played well," said Longview head coach Robert Bero. "We put them (Lufkin) in some bad positions during the game. I also thought Lufkin's defense played exceptionally well.
"That's what's going to happen if you're going to win this district, you've got to play well defensively. We just didn't make the plays on offense."
The Panthers won despite losing starting quarterback Reggie McNeal, who injured his right ankle on the first drive of the game. McNeal was the district's leading passer coming into the game.
A fake punt on fourth down in Lufkin's opening possession led to the only score of the first half. With Todd lining up to receive the snap, the ball instead went to LeBrandon Shepard, who fumbled 15 yards for a first down on a fourth-and-five play.
However, three plays later McNeal limped to the sideline and Garcia came in. Garcia drove the Panthers to the Lobo 16 and on third down hit Jones, who wrestled the ball away from Longview defender Broderick Thomas in the left front corner of the end zone for the touchdown with 4:51 showing on the clock.
Longview, meanwhile, reached the Lufkin 26 twice and 27-yard line only to be denied each time. A couple of procedure penalties, along with a failed fourth down on fourth-hand-one and a 46-yard field gaol attempt by Josh Scobee that came up short kept the Lobos off the scoreboard.
Scobee had also pinned the Panthers at their own one-yard line with a punt as Josh Symank and Vondrick Lawson combined to down the ball.
Marvin Byrdsong had picked off Garcia inside Lufkin territory as well.
The Panthers second score came with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter on a Garcia to Jones catch-and-run. Todd's field goal came at the 10:40 mark of the fourth.
The Lobos prevented the shut out with 38 seconds to play as Walter sharp caught a 7-yard pass from Dustin Wilson, who had replaced Joe Creal in the closing minutes. Longview drove 94 yards in 14 plays as Wilson completed 9 of 12 passes for 92 yards.