Kordell Rodgers + Lufkin Lock Up a Playoff Spot With 34-21 Win Over Conroe
[By Josh Havard, Special to ETSN.fm]
LUFKIN -- With their playoff hopes on the line against Conroe Oak Ridge a week ago, Lufkin put together a dominating performance to stay alive. Needing one more win to wrap up a playoff spot, the Panthers didn't wait nearly as long this time.
Playing in front of a Senior Night crowd, Lufkin quarterback Kordell Rodgers made the most of his final home game, throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-28 passing and Tre Grant ran for 105 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers rolled past the Conroe Tigers, 34-21.
"It was a good night for the kids,"Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. "We didn't finish quite like we would have liked, but those guys will be better the next time."
While Lufkin's offense was efficient in getting a big early lead that was never really tested, the defense answered the bell for the second straight week in overwhelming a Conroe offense that was playing without standout running back Donaven Lloyd for the second week.
Conroe gained a total of 274 yards and didn't get on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter when the game had long been decided.
"The kids got after it tonight," Quick said. "The key for us will be playing our best football in the first week of the playoffs."
It was all Lufkin in the first half as the offense put up 14 quick points and the defense never let the Tigers get on track.
The Panthers tripled up the Tigers in yardage in first half as they had a 281-90 advantage in total yards.
Meanwhile Rodgers completed his first nine passes on his way to throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-20 passing. His top target was Dhaillon Phillips, who had four catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with an injury after his first score.
Lufkin seized momentum from the opening kickoff as it went 70 yards on five plays. Phillips took advantage of man coverage by Conroe by hauling in a 38-yard touchdown pass that gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
After a defensive stop, the Panthers went back to work with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Malik Jackson scoring on a nine-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead with 5:41 left in the first quarter.
Torrand Grisby jumped on a fumble to stop a Conroe drive but the Panthers were off the mark on a 37-yard field goal.
The Panthers' next drive went deep inside Conroe territory before they settled for a Rodrigo Molina 34-yard field goal and a 17-0 lead.
After Lufkin forced Conroe's third punt of the night, Rodgers hit Phillips in stride for a 35-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the star receiver's final play of the night.
Jadrian Taylor came up with a sack to end one Conroe drive before the Tigers turned the ball over on downs on their deepest drive into Panthers' territory.
Lufkin drove into Conroe territory just before the half before a deep pass fell incomplete.
The Panthers continued their methodical dismantling of the Tigers early in the second half. After the defense forced a stop, the Panthers' offense put together its most time-consuming drive of the season.
Going 90 yards on 17 plays in a drive that took 5:02 off the clock, Tre Grant put the Panthers on top 31-0 with a one-yard scoring plunge.
Conroe finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter as Colby Kizzie hit a wide-open Kelly McFarland for a 37-yard touchdown that made it 31-7.
The Tigers added another late touchdown as Lufkin mishandled a snap deep inside its own territory to give them the ball at the 11-yard line. Ameer Patten scored on the next play to make the score 31-14.
Lufkin added another field goal with 3:08 remaining as Molina connected from 33 yards to make it a 20-point game.
Conroe put a final seven points on the board in the closing seconds with Kizzie hitting Jones for a 29-yard touchdown pass on a ball that was tipped by a Lufkin receiver, making the final 34-21.
The Panthers (6-3, 3-2) will round out the regular season on Friday night as they travel to take on Montgomery.