Lufkin Overcomes Defensive Struggles to Defeat Magnolia, 41-34
LUFKIN -- With a usually dominant defense under attack, the Lufkin Panthers’ offense was up to the challenge.
Lufkin scored early and often before the defense made just enough plays down the stretch on the way to a thrilling 41-34 win against the Magnolia Bulldogs at John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium on Friday night.
Kewone Thomas threw for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 9-of-13 passing and ran for 139 yards and two more touchdowns as Lufkin’s offense stole the show on a rare rough night for the Lufkin defense.
“It wasn’t our best night, but the offense was right there for us,” coach Todd Quick said. “It was the opposite of last week when our offense had a hard time most of the night. Next week, we need to be clicking on both sides.”
Thomas’ big night was huge for the Panthers on a night that Magnolia went away from its power game to have Travis Moore throw for 303 yards and four touchdowns on 22-of-40 passing.
However, Lufkin’s defense, which was torched for most of the night, shut out Magnolia over the final 13 minutes in securing the win.
Magnolia had the early answers for Lufkin as Hunter Oglesby intercepted a pass in the end zone and the Bulldogs responded with a 14-play, 81-yard drive that was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Travis Moore to Grand Timbes for an early 7-0 lead.
Lufkin didn’t wait long to provide its own fireworks as Demond McKelvey returned the following kickoff 90 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
Magnolia answered back with Moore hitting Renfro for a 30-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter for a 14-7 lead.
Lufkin continued the offensive showcase on the following drive with Thomas breaking free for a 40-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 14-13 after a mishandled extra point.
Magnolia had the answer once again with Renfro catching his second touchdown pass, this one from 27 yards, putting the Bulldogs back on top at 20-13 with 8:13 left in the second quarter.
The Panthers came right back with Kelton Wright getting well behind the Magnolia defense for a 35-yard touchdown pass from Thomas that tied the game at 20-20.
Lufkin finally got its first stop of the first half on the following drive before a shanked 17-yard punt gave the Panthers good field position.
Five plays later, Christian Reggie caught a six-yard touchdown on a jet sweep from Thomas, giving the Panthers their first lead of the game at 26-20.
The first half featured 529 yards of total offense with only one punt and one interception.
Thomas was the big-play threat for Lufkin with 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground while throwing for 83 yards and two scores.
Meanwhile, Moore threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns for the Bulldogs.
Magnolia put together another long drive to start the second half with Moore finishing it off with a 1-yard run that gave the Bulldogs the lead back at 27-26 with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
Magnolia then forced Lufkin into a fourth-and-2, but Thomas was up to the challenge as he kept the ball and scored on a 28-yard run off the option. He then added a spectacular run on a broken play on the two-point conversion, giving the Panthers a 34-27 lead with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
Lufkin came up with a defensive stop, but a special teams gaffe allowed Magnolia to get the ball back and score on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Darren Battle with 1:46 remaining, tying the game at 34-34.
Lufkin had the chance for a late lead before a 30-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with 4:10 remaining.
Lufkin’s defense came up with the defensive stop before Jerrin Thompson came through with a blocked punt, giving Lufkin the ball at the ball deep inside Magnolia territory.
The Panthers then went to the trick play with Titan Williams taking the ball on a reverse and powering it in from 32 yards out for a 41-34 lead with 3:24 remaining.
Lufkin’s defense then came up with one final stop in securing the win.
The Panthers will hit the road to take on the College Station Cougars on Friday.