Lufkin Picks Up First Win of Season With 45-28 Defeat of Nacogdoches
LUFKIN -- Isaiah Phillips ran for 149 yards and three scores, Kewone Thomas threw for 258 yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns as the Lufkin Panthers picked up a 45-28 win over the Nacogdoches Dragons at John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium on Friday night.
A week after faltering down the stretch in a loss to Longview, the Panthers turned the tables by scoring 21 unanswered points on their way to their first win of the 2017 season.
"I'm very proud of them," Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. "We put four quarters together. We were a little sloppy, but we'll get it cleaned up."
The Panthers were able to overcome a pair of early deficits and a big night from James Sowards to coast to a win after what had been somewhat of a shaky start.
Sowards finished the night with eight catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. Jake Smith threw for 157 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-19 passing and Bobby Phillips threw for 129 yards.
However, Lufkin's defense was able to slow down the Dragons while the offense put up 21 straight points to take control of the game.
"Defensively we played at a little different speed," Quick said. "We were rotating more guys in and it wasn't nearly as hot and humid. But I was proud of the effort."
With both teams seeking their first win of the year, the offenses came out firing in a first half in which they combined for 49 points and 483 yards.
Nacogdoches got on the board first after Lufkin was forced into a punt from its own end zone. Nine plays later, Marcus Sweat scored on an eight-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 7-0 lead.
Lufkin took less than three minutes to answer as Phillips scored on a five-yard run that tied it at 7-7 in the last minute of the first quarter.
Nacogdoches came up with the big play on defense early in the second quarter as a miscommunication by the Lufkin offense led to a 67-yard interception return from Lovenski Simon that gave Nacogdoches its second lead at 14-7.
The Panthers' offense was unfazed by that play with Breylon Garcia hauling in a nice 22-yard reception and Malik Jackson scoring on a sweep from 33 yards out that knotted the score at 14-14.
The Panthers moved within a few yards of taking the lead before a fumble kept the game tied. However, Lufkin's defense forced a three-and-out and a short punt gave the Pack the ball at the Nac 26.
Three plays later. Phillips scored on a three-yard touchdown run for Lufkin's first lead at 21-14.
The Dragons were the ones with the quick answer this time as they drove 66 yards in seven plays with Jake Smith hitting a wide open James Sowards for a 16-yard touchdown, making it 21-21 with 37 seconds left in the half.
Lufkin then cranked up the offense with Titan Williams making a 51-yard reception from Kewone Thomas before being hauled down at the Nacogdoches 2 with two seconds left.
Rather than settling for a field goal, Lufkin rolled the dice with Phillips scoring on a two-yard run for a 28-21 lead at the break.
Phillips finished the first half with 96 yards and three touchdowns on four touchdowns to lead the way for the Pack offense while Kewone Thomas completed 9-of-11 passes for 156 yards.
Nacogdoches was led by Smith, who threw for 101 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-13 passing.
Karlus Flanagan had 67 yards on five catches while Sowards had four receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Lufkin kept the pressure on in the second half as Jackson returned the opening kickoff 51 yards. The Panthers made that count when Tre' Grant took a short pass and turned it into a 16-yard touchdown on a fourth-down conversion.
The Panthers finally got some breathing room in the first minute of the fourth quarter when Thomas took a quarterback keeper and ran untouched for a 24-yard touchdown that upped the margin to 42-21.
Nacogdoches finally got back on the board midway through the fourth quarter on a Marcus Sweat one-yard touchdown run that made the score 42-28.
The Panthers delivered the final knockout blow with 2:33 left as Rodrigo Molina hit a 25-yard field goal to make the final 45-28.