In the second week of the season, a national powerhouse was able to do what nobody in Texas could – knock off the Lufkin Panthers.
With John David Booty, who would eventually play for the USC Trojans before playing in the NFL, leading the way, the Eagles were a little too much for a Lufkin team still finding its early stride. The final decision was a 33-17 Pack setback.
Lufkin’s defense showed it could hold its own against anybody, holding Evangel to a total of 342 yards. Most of that damage came from the arm of Booty. Using an innovative offense in which Booty lined up well behind the offensive line, he had time to find various receivers with his rocket of an arm, finishing the game with 313 yards on 26-of-41 passing.
Despite those efforts, Lufkin was within striking distance late in the game. After erasing most of an early 19-0 deficit, the Panthers chipped away at the margin, pulling within two points late in the third quarter. However, Evangel scored on a Thomas Bachman 24-yard touchdown catch to put the lead at nine. Then with the game well in hand and time running off the clock, Evangel elected to tack on one more touchdown with Bachman catching a 10-yard scoring strike from Booty with 45 seconds left on the clock.
Bachman, who would later sign with Texas Tech, finished with nine catches for 105 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers’ offense was able to show signs of life after a struggle in the first week but was derailed by five turnovers that took away their real threat at a win against an Evangel team that was ranked in the Top 25 in the USA Today poll.
Evangel took a 19-0 lead with Bacham hauling in a 20-yard reception before Kenneth Bradley caught a 29-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Booty called his own number for a one-yard score for the 19-point lead. The Panthers finally cracked the scoreboard on the last play of the second quarter when clutch kicker Stephen Coker connected on a 40-yard field goal.
In the second half, Lufkin put a legitimate scare into the Eagles with Quentin Holman using his dynamic speed to catch a 61-yard touchdown pass from Reggie McNeal. Terrance Parks scored on a four-yard run with six seconds left in the third quarter to send the Abe Martin crowd into a frenzy. But after it was unable to take the lead, Evangel finally held on to give Lufkin its first loss. That loss proved to be the final loss for Lufkin until the 2002 season.
Evangel, which finished with a 14-1 record, would finish with its fifth Louisiana state title in the past six seasons.