COLLEGE STATION -- The nice thing about Lufkin's Saturday in College Station is that you can make a case it was a better outcome than last year's run to the Division I Texas State 7-on-7 Championships' consolation title.

That's not something that immediately flew over well with the Panthers though. They got bounced by Lewisville Hebron, 35-30, after giving up the go-ahead touchdown with about a minute to play in the championship bracket's round of 32.

Lufkin led the game 18-7 at halftime, but ultimately dropped its second game of the event after winning its first two of three pool play games Friday at Veterans Memorial Park.

"It was a big step for us," senior receiver Javante Ellington said. "We faced some of the best competition and drew even better teams than last year. But it's just sad we didn't get to play as long as we did last year."

There were bright spots despite the negative outcome.

The Pack's defense forced Hebron into six four-second violations through the 40-minute game on a continuous clock. Since there are no linemen involved in the 7-on-7 game, quarterbacks are only given four seconds to get away the ball to an intended receiver.

Senior cornerback Zacourtney Deason killed a 38-yard Hebron drive on the 45-yard field with an interception and returned it the distance for a pick-six under the three-minute mark of the first half. A teammate was called for blocking, however, which is against 7-on-7's no-contact rules.

Lufkin got the points anyway when Kordell Rodgers found Ellington for the second of Ellington's three touchdown grabs.

Hebron, willing to take all the help it could get after the break, got some on the first drive of the second half.

Rodgers delivered an adequate ball to a receiver, but it was bobbled and fell into the hands of a Hebron defender.

From there, Hebron drove 45 yards to make it an 18-15 game. Hebron scored on all of its subsequent possessions.

The Panthers and Hebron's offenses traded scores the next four possessions, which helped Lufkin to a 30-23 lead.

Hebron cut the lead down to within a point, 30-29, a second time in the contest with less than six minutes to play.

Lufkin answered by turning the ball over on downs.

Hebron scored to take the lead with about a minute left. The Panthers drove for eight yards before the second half horn sounded.

Rodgers completed 25 of 33 passes for 283 yards and dished five touchdowns to one interception that wasn't his fault.

Deason and the remainder of the secondary stopped Hebron a total of three times.

"We just want to go into the season with a great attitude," Deason said. "We're going to compete and do our job. If we do our job, what we're taught to do, we're going to be great."

Lufkin is about to resume its position as the local representative in Houston. After two seasons in the East Texas-centric District 16-5A, it was once again reassigned to Class 6A due to a growing student population and was too far south to join a league featuring John Tyler, Longview and Tyler Lee against Metroplex teams.

The Pack will open their football season Aug. 26 against Longview and then face Nacogdoches in non-district competition before exiting regional affairs for their remaining eight games.

"They should expect for us to come out strong," Deason said. "With a mindset of, 'We're going to win.' Taking first place in 6A."