LUFKIN – Kewone Thomas accounted for 196 yards and five touchdowns as the fifth-ranked Lufkin Panthers overcame some sloppy play on their way to a 35-24 win over the Tomball Cougars at Abe Martin Stadium on Friday night.

Turning the ball over four times and failing to recover an onside kick to start the half, Lufkin (6-1, 4-0 in District 8-5A Division I) was never able to deliver the knockout punch in a game it controlled for an entire half.

However, Lufkin was able to make enough plays to never let Tomball (4-3, 2-2) within a single score over the game’s final 32 minutes.

“You can’t give teams breaks and let them stick around in a game like that,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said.

Thomas threw for 98 yards and three scores on 10-of-16 passing, and ran for 98 more yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries.

Caleb Berry added 97 rushing yards on 14 carries.

On the other side of the ball, Hunter Dunn threw for 221 yards and a touchdown on 26-of-44 passing with an interception. Daveon Vann ran for 125 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.

Lufkin got out to a fast start after Tomball dropped the snap on its first punt of the game. Thomas was able to find the end zone on a two-yard quarterback sneak that made it 7-0.

The Cougars’ defense then got its only score of the first half as Logan Compton deflected a pass to himself and returned an interception 65 yards, making it 7-7.

The Panthers got back on the board as Christian Reggie’s 40-yard punt return set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Ja’Lynn Polk in the corner of the end zone for a 14-7 lead.

Lufkin’s next score came on a nifty 29-yard run from Thomas, upping the margin to 21-7.

The Panthers took a three-score lead late in the first half with Thomas hitting Reggie over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown, making it 28-7.

The Panthers appeared to be driving for another possible score before the half before a fumble gave Tomball the chance to kick a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter that narrowed the gap to 28-10.

The Panthers outgained Tomball in the first half by a 225-101 margin with Berry running for 90 yards and Thomas throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more.

Tomball opened the second half by recovering an onside kick before Vean eventually scored on a three-yard touchdown run, making the score 28-17 with 8:21 left in the third quarter.

Lufkin’s defense finally put a stop to the Tomball momentum when Tre Odom intercepted a pass near midfield, setting up Thomas’ 12-yard touchdown pass to Titan Williams that upped the margin back to 35-17.

Tomball got one final score with 4:18 remaining when Dunn hit Compton for a 21-yard touchdown, making the score 35-24 with 4:18 left.

Lufkin will return to action on Friday night with a pivotal road game at Magnolia West, which is the other undefeated team in district.

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