TYLER -- John Tyler's first three scoring drives stalled, resulting in field goals. The Lions' final possession did as well, but the satisfaction level after the final kick was considerably higher than the previous three.

Luis Duran's 39-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining sent fifth-ranked John Tyler to a 26-24 victory over No. 10 Lufkin in the ETSN.fm/Dairy Queen Game of the Week on Friday night at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.

The game-winning field goal -- John Tyler's fourth of the night -- gave the Lions (5-1, 3-0 in District 16-5A) their first lead since the midway point of the opening quarter.

John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes was momentarily overcome with emotion following a win that kept his team unbeaten in district ahead of a monster showdown at Ennis (4-2, 3-0) next week that could decide the 16-5A championship.

John Tyler's Jeremy Wilson looks for room to run during the Lions' 26-24 win over Lufkin on Friday night. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

"I finally saw the team I wanted to see; the team that I've been trying to get out of them, the team the coaching staff's been trying to get out of them since Day 1," Holmes said. "A team that, no matter what happens, we're going to stick together and we're not going to break. That's an emotional win right there against a very, very, very good Lufkin team."

John Tyler began the game-winning drive a its own 29-yard line with 4:07 remaining. But a false start and an errant snap that cost JT 13 yards pushed the Lions all the way back to their own 11. Lions quarterback Geovari McCollister ran for 22 yards on the very next play, and a 10-yard pass to Duntayviun Gross gave John Tyler a first down at the 43.

Back-to-back 8-yard completions advanced the Lions into Lufkin (3-3, 1-2) territory, and on fourth-and-1 from the 32, McCollister connected with Nick Cain for a 9-yard completion and a first down.

John Tyler then opted to attempt the game-winning field goal on second down with 12 seconds remaining, but not before Lufkin called back-to-back timeouts in an effort to ice Duran, whose kick was true and led to a wild celebration on the John Tyler sideline.

McCollister, who completed 29 of 38 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown, was 5-of-6 on the game-winning drive and had the big 22-yard run to get the Lions out of the shadow of their own goal post.

John Tyler quarterback Geovari McCollister prepares to pass during the Lions' 26-24 win over Lufkin on Friday night in Tyler. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

"Showing signs of true leadership, understanding that things aren't always going to go right," Holmes said of McCollister. "But what you can't do is show frustration because, as a quarterback whether you know it or not and even if you're not the leader, you are the leader because that is the (face) of the team."

Lufkin got the ball back, but quarterback Trey Cumbie's pass on first down fell incomplete as time expired, sending the Panthers to their third loss in four games.

"You had one team that made a couple plays on the last drive, and one team that didn't," said Lufkin coach Todd Quick. "The kids played and fought on both sides. One group made a play at the end, and the other one didn't. And that's all."

John Tyler running back Jeremy Wilson finished with 176 total yards of offense. He ran for 97 yards on 14 carries, and had a team-high 10 receptions for 79 yards. Rodney Bendy caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, Nick Cain had seven receptions for 67 yards and Gross finished with three catches for 52 yards.

Cumbie passed for 210 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-22 passing. KeKe Coutee had four catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, while Terry Mark had three receptions for 65 yards and two scores.

John Tyler quarterback Geovari McCollister hands the ball off to running back Jeremy Wilson during the Lions' 26-24 win over Lufkin on Friday night in Tyler. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

Lufkin running back Steven Sowell, who came in averaging 157 yards per game and had gone over 100 yards in all five games this season, was limited to a season-low 31 yards on 19 carries as John Tyler's run defense held Lufkin to 99 rushing yards on 32 attempts.

"We knew they knew how to score, we knew they were a high-powered offense and we knew they could run the ball really, really well," Holmes said. "We knew we weren't going to be able to stop them, but we had to try to contain them. That was our plan going into the game."

John Tyler, which trailed 17-6 after managing just 130 yards of offense in the first half, scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter to pull to within a point. Duran blasted a 42-yard field goal to cap the Lions' first drive of the half, and McCollister ran 6 yards for a touchdown to cut Lufkin's lead to 17-16 with 4:23 to play in the third.

Lufkin responded with an eight-play, 68-yard drive that was helped along by a John Tyler pass interference and unsportsmanlike penalty on third down. The Panthers increased their lead to 24-16 when Cumbie connected with Terry Mark for a 31-yard touchdown with 52 seconds showing on the third-quarter clock.

John Tyler lost its second fumble of the game at the Lufkin 30 on its ensuing drive, but the Lions' defense forced a three-and-out. A 17-yard completion to Cain and a 19-yard strike to Wilson set up McCollister's 26-yard touchdown pass to Bendy, which trimmed Lufkin's lead to 24-23 with 7:55 remaining in the game.

Lufkin advanced the ball into JT territory on its next series, but had to punt the ball away after reaching the Lions' 44, which preceded John Tyler's game-winning 11-play, 50-yard drive.

John Tyler was able to withstand several negative plays as a result of poor shotgun snaps as well 100 yards in penalties to come away with the win.

"That's showing signs of understanding that the football game is not always going to go the way we want it," Holmes said. "But we've got to stay that course with what we practice week-in and week-out, and come out with a victory no matter how it is."

Lufkin went three-and-out on the game's first series, and John Tyler's Bryston Gipson blocked the punt to set the Lions up at the Lufkin 13. However, JT had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Luis Lizalde.

Lufkin's Terry Mark makes a touchdown catch over the defense of John Tyler's Isaac Warren during their game Friday night in Tyler. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

The Panthers' offense got back on track on their next drive, moving 69 yards in only five plays and scoring on Cumbie's 22-yard pass to Terry Mark for a 7-3 lead with 7:13 remaining in the first quarter.

Lufkin's Josh Driver recovered a McCollister fumble on the next series, but Lufkin could only manage a Javier Montes 32-yard field goal that extended its lead to 10-3.

John Tyler ate up more than five minutes on its next possession, but again had to settle for three on Lizalde's 37-yard field goal, which cut Lufkin's lead to 10-6 with 11 seconds to play in the opening quarter.

Lufkin scored right before halftime on a 30-yard pass from Cumbie to Coutee, building a 17-6 lead.

"Our front line played really good and I thought our linebackers played good, and we made tackles," Quick said. "We got a couple of turnovers, a couple of extra possessions for the offense. It all comes down to effort. If you play hard, that takes care of a lot of things."

Lufkin returns to action next Friday night at Lindale (2-4, 1-2), while John Tyler travels to Ennis for what could be the game in the year in District 16-5A.

"We're 3-0 knowing that we get to go to Ennis, and we're still in the driver's seat right now, and we want to stay there," Holmes said. "We know we've got to go to work on Monday, and we've got to fix some things and make sure we get on that bus knowing that we've got it together."

John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes celebrates during the Lions' 26-24 win over Lufkin on Friday night in Tyler. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

No. 5 John Tyler 26, No. 10 Lufkin 24

At TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler

Lufkin                   10     7     7     0    --    24
John Tyler              6     0   10   10    --    26

First Quarter
JT--FG Luis Lizalde 22, 9:03.
LUF--Terry Mark 22 pass from Trey Cumbie (Javier Montes kick), 7:13.
LUF--FG Montes 32, 5:13.
JT--FG Lizalde 37, :11.
Second Quarter
LUF--KeKe Coutee 30 pass from Cumbie (Montes kick), :22.
Third Quarter
JT--FG Duran 42, 8:53.
JT--Geovari McCollister 6 run (Duran kick), 4:23.
LUF--Mark 31 pass from Cumbie (Montes kick), :52.
Fourth Quarter
JT--Rodney Bendy 26 pass from McCollister (Duran kick), 7:55.
JT--FG Duran 39, :07.

                                             LUF                     JT
First Downs                              14                     25
Total Yards                             309                   411
Rushes-Yards                      32-99             36-122
Passing Yards                         210                  289
Comp.-Att.-Int.                 12-22-0           29-38-0
Punts-Avg.                          4.32.3             2-41.5
Fumbles-Lost                           0-0                  6-2
Penalties-Yards                    14-85              8-100

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Lufkin, Steven Sowell 19-31, Trey Cumbie 5-30, Blake Johnson 2-19, KeKe Coutee 2-11, Dalvin Smith 4-8. John Tyler, Jeremy Wilson 14-97, Geovari McCollister 22-25.
PASSING--Lufkin, Cumbie 12-22-0--210. John Tyler, McCollister 29-39-0--289.
RECEIVING--Lufkin, Coutee 4-75, Terry Mark 3-65, Johnson 2-43, Sowell 2-10, Smith 1-17. John Tyler, Wilson 10-79, Nick Cain 7-67, Rodney Bendy 5-69, Tommy Dyer 4-22, Duntayviun Gross 3-52.