LUFKIN - Longview has battled all season to control its own destiny. Now the Lobos must wait for the outcome of today's Tyler Lee-John Tyler game at Rose Staidum to find out if their hard work in 2001 has paid off in a postseason berth.
Lufkin scored all the points it would need in the first half, including a clutch touchdown pass by scrambling Reggie McNeal right before halftime, to capture a 21-7 victory over Longview here Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
The win enables the Panthers (9-1) to run the table in District 12-5A with a perfect 5-0 record and capture their first championship since 1986. They will take on Dallas Carter next week in a Region II bi-district playoff at Sprague Stadium in Dallas.
For the Lobos (6-4, 3-2) to make the playoffs, Lee needs to beat John Tyler. However, if John Tyler (6-3, 2-2) beats Lee by three points or more, then the Lions are in the playoffs and Longview sits at home. Lufkin's win over the Lobos clinched a postseason berth for the Red Raiders.
"They've got one fine football team" said Longview coach Pat Collins. "They are a great defensive team. What really kind of caught us off guard was their no-huddle (offense).
"I thought our defensive coaches made some great adjustments at the half and gave our plays as chance to make some plays. All those players just played their hearts out, and that's what I told them on the field at the end of the game."
Longview battled back, shutting down Lufkin the second had as they picked off McNeal twice. Lobo linebacker Marvin Byrdsong had 13 tackles, including eight solos. But, the Panther defense also held the Lobos in check as well.
Longview did get inside the red zone twice, only to be denied as the Panthers' Velton Kirksey wrestled the ball away from La'Bryan Williams in the end zone for an interception, and then Jack Reggie made a diving tackle to stop LaRandall McKind a yard short on of a first down on fourth-and-eight at the Lufkin 4.
McNeal finished with 91 yards on 15-of-19 completions, including a 24-yard toss to Terrence Mott with 20 seconds left before half-time after Longview fumbled the ball on a mishandled punt snap. McNeal was able to elude three Lobo defenders on third-and-nine and find his wide receiver in the back of the end zone for six points.
Terrance Parks had four receptions for 75 yards to lead the Panthers, and he also came in at quarterback and ran for a touchdown.
Longview quarterback Joel Armstrong completed 7-of-14 pass attempts for 65 yards, and picked up just 29 on the ground. Willie Andrews rushed for 96 yards on 18 carries and scored once. He also threw a pass for 38 yards, and he had an interception on defense.
"I think our football team has played good enough and hard enough to be in the playoffs," Collins said. "But our fate is in somebody else's hand, and we knew that coming into the ballgame. This football team has made a ton of sacrifices and they really put it on the line tonight."
A missed opportunity in the early going, a pair of fumbles and too much McNeal in the first half found the Lobos trailing 21-7 at halftime. The 6'2 senior was 12-of-21 in the opening half for 175 yards and a touchdown.
Longview had a chance to go up first on the scoreboard as it marched to the Lufkin 6 after Andrews stopped the Panthers with an interception at the Lobo 2. The Lobos then drove from their 15, getting a 28-yard keeper from Armstrong and a 32-yard carry by Andrews to move deep into Lufkin territory.
However, on first-and-goal, the Panthers tripped Fred Hawkins of the ball and Jonathan Hale recovered at the 4. The Lobos were also flagged on the play for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the ball to the 19.
Lufkin then went on an 81-yard, 6-play drive. Terry Williams took the ball to near midfield for a 32-yard gain, and then McNeal twice went to Parks for gains of 12 and 24 yards. McNeal also ran for 11 yards. The second McNeal-to-Parks pass gave the Panthers a first-and-goal at the Lobo 1.
Parks then came in at quarterback, and on second down dove across the middle for the touchdown.
The Panthers increased their lead to 14-0 on the next series, after forcing a short punt by the Lobos. Williams had an 11-yard gain into Longview territory and McNeal connected with Quentin Holman for 18 yards and a first down at the 11. Williams finished off the drive with his lone scoring romp in to the end zone at the 11:08 mark.
Longview then got on the scoreboard to answer the Lufkin rive. Armstrong connected with McKind for an 11-yard gain, and then Andrews took the pitch from Armstrong and threw a 38-yard halfback option pass to Williams for a first down at the Panther 28.
Andrews ran for 10 yards to the 15, and after a five-yard penalty for delay of game. Armstrong tossed a screen pass to Hawkins as the Lobos moved to the 6. Andrews then finished off the 80-yard, 7-play drive as he dragged tacklers into the end zone for the touchdown with 7:37 to play in the second quarter.
Alex Cammack added the extra point.