Blocked Extra Point In Closing Seconds Sends Longview To 21-20 Defeat Of Lufkin In Season Opener
LONGVIEW -- Less than one year ago, longtime rivals Lufkin and Longview squared off in a playoff game for the ages. It was decided in the final minute on a successful Lobos two-point conversion.
Friday night's season opener at Lobo Stadium had similar overtones, except Lufkin had the chance to exact revenge this time around after a touchdown brought the Panthers to within a point with less than a minute remaining.
But instead of going for two and the win, like Longview did last November in its bi-district victory, Lufkin opted to attempt a tying extra point. Only, the Lobos again had fate on their side.
Longview senior Ameron Dean blocked Rodrigo Molina's PAT, giving the Lobos a thrilling 21-20 win -- their second one-point victory in as many meetings against arch-rival Lufkin.
"There's a lot of respect between both coaching staffs, and both teams," said Longview coach John King. "Our kids get after each other pretty good, but when it's all said and done, it's respect, because I think we mirror each other. We're very physical and very athletic, and the two communities really love their football."
Incidentally, Longview's win made King the Lobos' all-time winningest coach. King, who is 121-28 in his 12 seasons at Longview, surpassed Doug Cox, who coached the Lobos from 1974-87.
"I'd give the other ones up for this one tonight," King said. "Doug Cox got this place back on the map when he was here as a head coach. And that's the kind of respect we have for him as a coaching staff."
Kordell Rogers' 7-yard touchdown pass to Jadarien Bennett on third-and-goal with 34 seconds remaining capped an 82-yard drive that began with 4:08 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.
Lufkin lined up for the extra point, then called timeout.
"He was the block-guy on that extra point, and he was close on another one," King said of Dean, who also recorded an interception on defense. "I told him when they called a timeout, 'I said you can block it, you're close.' It was a good job of executing the block."
Lufkin's onside-kick attempt sailed out of bounds, and Longview survived another thriller.
With the game tied at 14-14, early in the fourth quarter, the Lobos turned to their patented ground game, and in particular, senior running back Tylan Miller, who carried the ball nine times on Longview's 15-play, 91-yard drive, including a 20-yard touchdown run with 4:14 remaining.
Miller finished the night with 165 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.
"He's that type of back," King said of Miller, who also led the Lobos with three catches for 35 yards. "The longer he runs it, the better he gets sometimes. He's hard to get on the ground, he's a tough customer. I thought our offensive line did a good job of handling stuff on that drive because it wasn't a secret what we were doing. We're going to three tight ends and two backs. I was proud of those guys being able to control the line of scrimmage."
Lufkin (0-1) was led offensively by senior running back Ellis Jackson, who ran 17 times for 159 yards. On the Panthers' final drive of the night, he squirted free from a pile of more than a dozen players to gain 34 yards to the Longview 46.
Panthers junior quarterback Kordell Rodgers was 11 of 21 passing for 108 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Lufkin wasted an opportunity to seize control of the game when the Panthers intercepted Longview quarterback Michael Ross on back-to-back possessions. But each time, the Lobos' defense rose to the occasion.
"They feed off each other, they're going to have each other's back," King said. "That's kind of the mentality in the locker room. That's how you have to be. If one's side struggling, the other side better pick it up."
Each team traded first-quarter touchdowns.
Lufkin went 68 yards in 10 plays on the game's ensuing drive, scoring on Rodgers' 8-yard shovel pass to Malik Jackson with 8:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Longview responded two possessions later. The Lobos got the ball at the Lufkin 43 following a short punt, and Ross called his own number on an option play, and scored on a 7-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:31 to play in the opening period.
The Lobos went to work again on their next series. Longview travelled 60 yards in 10 plays, and scored on Miller's 8-yard run, which pushed the Lobos' lead to 14-7 with 9:35 remaining in the half. The drive was extended by a roughing the passer penalty on third-and-long.
Lufkin had tough sledding on offense for most of the first half, but sophomore Savon Fields provided a spark with a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown that tied the game at 14-14 with 1:22 to play until halftime.
The Panthers were held to 147 second-half yards, but 82 of it came on their final drive.
"I think our defense played a heck of a ballgame against some very athletic skill kids, and a huge offensive line they do it with," King said. "But our kids made plays, and we made just enough to get away with a win."
Both teams continue their seasons next week in Tyler. Lufkin faces Tyler Lee on Friday, while Longview meets John Tyler the following night.
Longview 21, No. 10 Lufkin 20
At Lobo Stadium, Longview
Lufkin 7 7 0 6 -- 20
Longview 7 7 0 7 -- 21
LUF--Malik Jackson 8 pass from Kordell Rodgers (Rodrigo Molina kick), 8:35.
LON--Michael Ross 7 run (Cody Jenkins kick), 3:31.
LON--Tylan Miller 8 run (Jenkins kick), 9:35.
LUF--Savon Fields 92 punt return (Molina kick), 1:22.
LON--Miller 20 run (Jenkins kick), 4:14.
LUF--Jadarien Bennett 7 pass from Rodgers (kick failed), :34.
First Downs 14 22
Total Yards 298 332
Rushes-Yards 32-190 50-271
Passing Yards 108 61
Comp.-Att.-Int. 11-21-1 7-19-2
Punts-Avg. 4-37.5 4-35.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 4-0
Penalties-Yards 5-35 5-45
RUSHING--Lufkin, Ellis Jackson 17-159, Kordell Rodgers 9-15, Dalvin Smith 5-15, Khalil Brown 1-1. Longview, Tylan Miller 29-165, Austin Moore 6-43, Michael Ross 10-39, D'Crayvan Polk 5-24.
PASSING--Lufkin, Rodgers 11-21-1--108. Longview, Ross 7-19-2--61.
RECEIVING--Lufkin, Jadarien Bennett 5-41, Malik Jackson 4-37, Ellis Jackson 1-21, Jeremiah Davis 1-9. Longview, Miller 3-25, Moore 2-20, Jon Sorey 1-10, Chris Braggs 1-6.