Even with a seven-game winning streak and at least a share of the district title already in hand, the Lufkin Panthers knew nothing would come easy against district rival Longview in the regular season finale. It didn’t come easy, but thanks to another outstanding defensive effort, the Panthers walked away with a 21-7 win and the outright district championship, setting the stage for even more fireworks that would come in the postseason.
The Panthers scored in the closing seconds of the first half and the defense put up another shutout in the second half to help them run the table through a usually brutal district. In doing so, the Panthers won each game by double digits. Even more impressive, teams were never within single digits in the fourth quarter in any of those five games. Reggie McNeal did enough damage for the Panthers by throwing for 187 yards and a touchdown.
Terry Williams added 76 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Playing in front of a packed Abe Martin Stadium crowd that came to see Lufkin lift up its first district championship trophy since 1986, the Panthers got on the board first with Terrance Parks scoring on a one-yard touchdown run that made it 7-0. The lead went to 14-0 in the first minute of the second quarter when Williams scored on an 11-yard run, and the Panthers seemed to be on their way to an easy win.
An upset-minded Longview team had other plans with Willie Andrews, a player who went on to Baylor and was later a seventh-round draft pick of the Patriots, scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run that dropped the margin to 14-7. Lufkin seized some much-needed momentum just before the half when McNeal hit Terrance Mott for a 24-yard touchdown that made the score 21-7. The Panthers were unable to tack on any more scores following that score, but it was a moot point as they captured the district title. With the win, Lufkin (9-1) entered the playoffs as the district’s top seed in the Division II playoffs.