Lufkin Defense Carries the Panthers to 21-3 District-Opening Win Over College Park
[By JOSH RICHERT, Special to ETSN.fm]
THE WOODLANDS -- Riding a three-game winning streak headed into the District 12-6A opener, the Lufkin Panthers had been clicking on all cylinders. On Friday night, the offense hit a roadblock in being held under 300 yards.
Thanks to a Lufkin defense that allowed a total of 105 yards, including nine in the second half, it didn't matter as the Panthers coasted to a 21-3 win over the College Park Cavaliers at Woodforest Bank Stadium on Friday night.
Lufkin's defense held the Cavs to 21 rushing yards on 34 carries while also holding College Park to less than two yards per play. That was more than enough to overcome an off night from the offense.
"(On defense) we played hard, we played fast and we gave good effort," Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. "We knocked the fire out of them."
Kewone Thomas threw for 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 11-of-23 passing and also ran for another score. Breylon Garcia caught three passes for 79 yards and a 63-yard touchdowns and Isaiah Phillips finished with 95 yards on 15 carries.
However, it was the defense that had to carry the load in the district opener.
"We pulled our weight on defense when the other side wasn't getting it," Quick said. "I told the kids I'm happy for the win, but I want more from them. We have to clean everything up."
Jake Hunnicutt threw for 84 yards on 8-of-20 passing with an interception. Roger Younger had 31 yards on three catches.
On the ground, Lufkin held the running back duo of Aaron Randle and Travis Washburn to a total of 39 yards on 24 carries.
A Lufkin offense that came into the night averaging 38 points per game got off to a good start in the first quarter before being stifled throughout the second quarter.
Lufkin started the game with a bang as Malik Jackson returned the opening kickoff 65 yards to the College Park 1 before Kewone Thomas snuck it in for a touchdown from two yards out two plays later for an early 7-0 lead.
College Park returned the following kickoff into Lufkin territory before both teams eventually turned the ball over on downs.
The Panthers' defense came up with another big play when Jerrin Thomas recovered a fumble near midfield.
Lufkin's offense took advantage with a 10-play, 56-yard drive that was capped with Thomas' nine-yard touchdown pass to Jackson for a 14-0 lead with 2:24 left in the first quarter.
However, Lufkin's offense stalled from there as it failed to score for the rest of the first half.
College Park finally got on the board late in the first half with the help of a Lufkin targeting penalty that led to the ejection of Savon Fields.
The Cavs got on the board on the last play of the first half when Carson Mohr connected on a 41-yard field goal that cut the margin to 14-3.
In the first half, Lufkin held College Park to 96 total yards. Jake Hunnicutt threw for 77 yards on 7-of-14 passing, but College Park was held to 19 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Kewone Thomas threw for 68 yards and a touchdown on 8-of-15 passing in the first half and also scored a rushing touchdown.
Isaiah Phillips led Lufkin's ground attack with 47 yards on eight carries.
Lufkin's offense continued to struggle in the third quarter when it fumbled the ball out of the back of the end zone just before crossing the goal line on a play that would have made it an 18-point game.
Undeterred, the defense came up with another big stand, forcing a three and out, to give the Panthers the ball back.
Lufkin took advantage with Thomas hitting Breylon Garcia in stride for a 63-yard touchdown that gave the Panthers a 21-3 lead late in the third quarter.
Lufkin will host The Woodlands on Friday night.