Lufkin Avenges Losses to Nacogdoches, Captures 38-0 Shutout of Dragons
LUFKIN -- After losses to Nacogdoches in each of the past two seasons, the Lufkin Panthers hit the field for their home opener looking to restore their dominance over the Dragons.
Thanks to a punishing defense and a dominating performance from the opening kickoff, the Panthers got some payback on their longtime rival, rolling to a 38-0 win at John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium.
Lufkin held Nacogdoches to a total of five yards in the opening half and forced four turnovers on the way to a win that was never in doubt after the Panthers raced out to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
"The defensive staff did a heck of a job and the kids went out there, executed and played hard," Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. "We had a bunch of kids play hard, especially on the front four. We were able to get some pressure on them and control a lot of the game there."
Lufkin held Nacogdoches to 114 total yards on the night as the Dragons averaged less than two yards per play. Noah Hildebrand threw for just 30 yards while completing 6-of-21 passes with an interception.
Phillip Jones ran for 105 yards on 23 carries to lead the Nacogdoches ground game.
That wasn't nearly enough against a Lufkin offense that was efficient throughout the first half before coasting after the break.
Kordell Rodgers had another strong game for Lufkin with 225 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-17 passing. His top target continued to be D'Hailon Phillips, who caught five passes for 129 yards and two scores.
"We did a good job there in the first half and were a little sluggish after the break," Quick said. "Then we put up a touchdown so overall it was a good night."
Lufkin was able to bounce back against Nacogdoches after losing back-to-back games to their rivals, both on the road. When the series returned to Lufkin, the Dragons never stood a chance.
"This is just the first one," Quick said. "Now we can start the road from here."
The Panthers took control of the game in a dominating first half.
After Lufkin turned the ball over on downs on its first possession, it forced a turnover as Karl Chatman recovered a fumble after a snap went over the head of the Dragons' quarterback at the Nacogdoches 4-yard line.
Two plays later, Dalvin Smith powered his way in from three yards out to give Lufkin an early 6-0 lead.
Lufkin's defense got in on the scoring act less than a minute later as Isaiah Phillips scooped up the ball on a bad pitch and returned it 35 yards for a score. Malik Jackson hauled in the two-point pass from Rodgers, making it 14-0.
Lufkin took advantage of yet another Nacogdoches miscue to bring the margin to 21-0.
After forcing a punt, the Dragons' deep snapper sailed a snap over the punter's head. Nacogdoches was able to recover, but Lufkin took over at the Dragons' 19-yard line.
Two plays later, Smith scored from five yards out to make it 21-0.
The Panthers made it 28-0 with its biggest offensive play of the first half as Rodgers hit a wide open D'Hailon Phillips for a 50-yard touchdown on third and 16 with 7:53 left in the opening half.
Nacogdoches appeared ready to seize some momentum when Devante Johnson recovered a fumble deep inside Lufkin territory.
However, Lufkin's Luke Rowley made a hard hit on fourth down to keep the Nacogdoches wide receiver from making a catch to keep the score at 28-0.
The Panthers made it 31-0 just before the half when Rodrigo Molina nailed a 34-yard field goal with 34 seconds remaining.
Lufkin closed out the first half by outgaining Nacogdoches 244-5. Rodgers led Lufkin with 156 yards and a touchdown on 8-of-10 passing. Phillips added three catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
In the second half, Nacogdoches' offensive woes continued. On the opening drive, Nacogdoches dropped a pass in the end zone then dropped another pass that ended a drive.
Lufkin got back on the board for the last time as Phillips hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to make it 38-0 late in the third quarter.
Lufkin (2-2, 1-0) returns to action on Friday as it plays at Whitehouse. Nacogdoches (1-3, 0-1) returns home to face Ennis.