TYLER -- It's been a while since the Lufkin Panthers have tasted defeat, and it was easy to see why in Thursday night's playoff opener against Longview.

Lufkin's size, speed, and skill were all on display in a 3-1 victory over the Lobos in their Class 5A Region II bi-district match at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium -- the Panthers' 20 consecutive victory.

Longview's Richie Lopez (11) and Lufkin's Javier Patlan battle for a loose ball during their Class 5A bi-district playoff Thursday in Tyler. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

"They're just finding different ways to win," Lufkin coach Russell Shaw said of his team. "Every game's a different challenge. Early on I thought we were just really clicking well with our attack, and we got the goals. In the second half, Longview came out strong and we had to get our defense going."

Lufkin advanced to the area round where it will face either Dallas Spruce or Mansfield Timberview early next week.

All of the scoring occurred in the game's first 40 minutes, as Lufkin battled a spirited Longview attack and the wind in the second half to preserve the win.

The Panthers put up three goals in the opening half, but it could've been much more as Longview freshman keeper Jaziel Rodriguez did his best to keep the Lobos in the match with three superb first-half saves.

The two teams traded goals about a minute apart. Lufkin got on the board when Javier Patlan scored on a header off a throw-in from senior captain Jake Williams, whose throwing strength and accuracy gave Longview fits all night.

"He's one of the best you'll ever see, that's for sure," Shaw said of Williams, who finished with two assists. "It's been one of our biggest weapons all season. It's just amazing."

Longview quickly answered when Jovanni Barrios scored on a header of his own, tying the match at 1-1 with 26:28 to play in the first half.

Longview's Richie Lopez dives to keep the ball in play during the Lobos' 3-1 loss to Lufkin in their Class 5A bi-district playoff Thursday in Tyler. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

That's when Lufkin's offensive attack came alive. The Panthers re-took the lead for good three minutes after Barrios' goal when Omar Zamarripa found the net off an assist from Williams.

Lufkin threatened to break the game wide open, but a trio of stellar saves by Rodriguez kept it a one-goal game. That was until Sammy Villegas' header, assisted by Zamarripa, with 2:57 to play until halftime pushed the Panthers' lead to 3-1.

"Our players have been just really unselfish," Shaw said. "They're creative, we have speed, and when we're on like that we're hard to stop."

Longview increased its attack in the second half, but was only able to get off a couple of long-range free kicks that made their way to Panthers' goalie Omar Roque.

Despite the Lobos' aggressiveness down the stretch, Lufkin still had a couple of chances to distance itself from Longview, but Patlan was wide left on a pair of breakaway opportunities in the second half.

"We pressed and wanted to get another goal (in the second half) and kinda put it away, but we couldn't get that finish," Shaw said. "And the wind was a big factor as well."

Lufkin's Omar Zamarripa shoots and scores during the Panthers' 3-1 win over Longview in their Class 5A bi-district playoff Thursday in Tyler. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)