Lufkin Erases 39-Point Deficit To Stun Tyler Lee In Overtime, 52-49
TYLER -- When it was all said and done, Lufkin players crowded around head coach Todd Quick, and serenaded him with a joyful rendition of "Happy Birthday." It was truly cause for celebration.
Lufkin erased a 39-point deficit late in the first half, and stormed back to stun Tyler Lee, 52-49, in overtime Friday night in the second game of the 12th annual Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic at Rose Stadium.
The Panthers (1-1) trailed, 42-3, with a little more than a minute remaining in the opening half, before outscoring the Red Raiders (0-2), 49-7, the rest of the way.
"It just shows you that if you keep plugging away, good things will happen," said Quick. "They fought their tail off, I couldn't be more proud of them."
The win was especially sweet for Lufkin, which blew a 28-point lead in a playoff loss to Longview last year, and has had six losses by a combined 21 points since the beginning of last season.
"We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game," said Lufkin junior quarterback Kordell Rodgers. "Last year, we had many losses in the fourth quarter. We just had to keep fighting. We believed in each other, came out here and got the win."
Lufkin took possession first in overtime, and on third-and-goal from the 10, Rodgers' pass to the end zone was broken up by Lee junior Makyle Sanders. Panthers kicker Rodrigo Molina then knocked home a 27-yard field goal -- his third of the night -- to give Lufkin its first lead of the game.
Lee lost yardage on its first play of overtime, and recovered a fumble on second down, before Lufkin sophomore Savon Fields broke up a pass to force fourth. Instead of trying what would've been a 46-yard field goal for the tie, Lee quarterback Zach Hall's pass to the end zone was broken up by LaVonte White to end the game.
"The defense played a big part in the win," Rodgers said. "The defense couldn't stop them in the first half, and we couldn't score. We just came together as a team, and said, 'we're gonna have to keep fighting. We lost like this against Longview in the playoffs last year.' The game's never over until it's 0:00."
Rodgers enjoyed a huge night, as did several offensive playmakers. He finished 24 of 35 passing for 444 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while running for a team-high 119 yards and two scores on 24 carries.
"There's a reason why there's not a quarterback controversy here. He is our guy, he is our man," Quick said of Rodgers. "We knew it coming in. Every day he comes out here, he will get better and better. And he's not sitting on it, he's going to work, and they will follow him. You've got to have that guy."
Rodgers' favorite target was junior Dhailon Phillips, an offseason move-in. He had 10 catches for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"He came here to make big plays for Lufkin, and that's what we need him for," Rodgers said of Phillips, who did not have a catch in last week's game. "We depend on him to make big plays just like he did (tonight)."
In all, Lufkin posted 716 yards of offense, including 437 in the second half. Panthers running back Ellis Jackson rushed for 93 yards on 17 attempts, and caught two passes for 57 yards.
The Panthers' heroics stole the thunder from Lee senior quarterback Zach Hall, who dazzled for most the night. He finished 15 of 24 passing for 330 yards and four touchdowns, while running for 230 yards and two scores.
Lee receiver Tyrec Grayson put up 167 all-purpose yards with a touchdown, while senior running back Datavion Thacker caught two passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 47 yards on eight carries.
Lufkin began its comeback with Khalil Brown's 40-yard touchdown run, which cut the Panthers' deficit to 42-10 with 1:06 remaining in the first half. Lufkin then scored touchdowns on its first drives of the third quarter, and got a field goal from Molina to trim Lee's lead to 42-34 with 10:13 remaining in the fourth.
The Red Raiders snapped the string of 31 consecutive Lufkin points on their next series, getting a 15-yard touchdown run by Tavon Wesley for a 49-34 lead with 7:12 remaining.
But the Panthers went back to work.
Rodgers hit Ellis Jackson on a screen pass for a 53-yard gain to the Lee 4-yard line. And on third down, Rodgers called his own number for a 1-yard touchdown run, which cut the lead to 49-41 with 5:48 to play in regulation.
Lee was forced into a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and Lufkin took over at its own 30 with 4:05 remaining. And on third-and-15 from the Lee 36, Rodgers fired a pass to Phillips over the middle, and after the receiver tipped it to himself, he rolled into the end zone.
Ellis Jackson ran in the game-tying two-point conversion with 2:24 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.
Following another stalled Lee drive, Lufkin had a chance to win it regulation. The Panthers moved the ball to the Lee 8-yard line, but ran out of time as the field-goal unit rushed to the field to get set.
Hall, who had 418 yards of offense and six touchdowns in the first half, was tamed after halftime. The Red Raiders were limited to 179 yards in the second half following a 526-yard effort in the game's first two quarters.
"We went real simple," Quick said of his defense. "We had two calls, and one front. We just lined up, got off blocks and made tackles. The same plays they were running on us in the first half, we were just real confused. They just played (in the second half)."
Lee scored on its first three drives of the night for a 21-3 lead after the first quarter. Hall had scoring runs of 64 and 55 yards, and he delivered a 70-yard touchdown pass to Grayson.
The Red Raiders added to it in the second quarter, scoring on a 2-yard pass from Hall to Isjuwan Barker, and touchdown passes of 57 and 67 yards to Thacker for a 42-3 lead with 1:35 remaining until halftime.
"Every coach in America can go in at halftime when they're down, and say, 'guys, if you just keep plugging away, good things will happen. You make first downs, you make tackles, and good things will happen,'" Quick said. "And it doesn't always turn out this way, but with a young group, it's made an impression. It couldn't have been better for us because we're so young."
Both teams return to the field next Friday night. Lufkin plays Louisiana power West Monroe in the annual Battle on the Border showcase in Shreveport, while Tyler Lee faces crosstown rival John Tyler.
Lufkin 52, Tyler Lee 49 (OT)
At TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler
Lufkin 3 7 21 18 3 -- 52
Tyler Lee 21 21 0 7 0 -- 49
LEE--Zach Hall 64 run (Chris Blas kick), 11:01.
LUF--FG Rodrigo Molina 29, 7:16.
LEE--Hall 55 run (Blas kick), 6:51.
LEE--Tyrec Grayson 70 pass from Hall (Blas kick), 4:24.
LEE--Isjuwan Barker 2 pass from Hall (Blas kick), 9:44.
LEE--Datavion Thacker 57 pass from Hall (Blas kick), 7:33.
LEE--Thacker 67 pass from Hall (Blas kick), 1:35.
LUF--Khalil Brown 40 run (Molina kick), 1:06.
LUF--Dhailon Phillips 67 pass from Kordell Rodgers (Molina kick), 10:36.
LUF--Dalvin Smith 1 run (Molina kick), 7:18.
LUF--Rodgers 13 run (Molina kick), 3:40.
LUF--FG Molina 22, 10:13.
LEE--Tavon Wesley 15 run (Blas kick), 7:12.
LUF--Rodgers 1 run (Molina kick), 5:48.
LUF--Phillips 36 pass from Rodgers (Ellis Jackson run), 2:24.
LUF--FG Molina 27
First Downs 33 23
Total Yards 716 705
Rushes-Yards 50-272 40-375
Passing Yards 444 330
Comp.-Att.-Int. 24-35-1 15-24-0
Punts-Avg. 3-31.3 6-34.7
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 3-1
Penalties-Yards 8-55 12-95
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING--Lufkin, Kordell Rodgers 24-119, Ellis Jackson 17-93, Khalil Brown 5-52, Dalvin Smith 4-8. Tyler Lee, Zach Hall 19-230, Datavion Thacker 8-47, Tavon Wesley 4-46, Tyrec Grayson 3-34, Mason Parker 4-23, Theo Brooks 2-(-5).
PASSING--Lufkin, Rodgers 24-35-1--444. Tyler Lee, Hall 15-24-0--330.
RECEIVING--Lufkin, Dhailon Phillips 10-228, Malik Jackson 4-86, Jeremiah Davis 4-37, Ellis Jackson 2-57, Javante Ellington 2-13, JaDarien Bennett 1-13, Savon Fields 1-10. Tyler Lee, Grayson 5-133, Wesley 3-54, Thacker 2-124, Isjuwan Barker 2-9, Parker 2-1, Chance Amie 1-12.