In 2002, Texas A&M freshman QB Reggie McNeal would lead his Aggies to a 30-26 win over the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners at Kyle Field. In a playoff trip to College Station a year earlier, he gave Aggies’ fans a glimpse of what was to come when he did it all for the Panthers in a 34-20 win over Killeen.
McNeal ran for a touchdown and threw for another to help Lufkin to a narrow lead. Then with the game on the line, he one-upped himself on the defensive side, picking off a pass and darting 61 yards for a touchdown to seal yet another memorable Lufkin playoff win.
With several Aggie fans wildly cheering on their blue-chip prospect, Lufkin had an even bigger homefield advantage than usual, even away from home. McNeal didn’t disappoint in yet another game that went down to the wire.
Less than three minutes into the game, McNeal flashed off his athleticism when he took off for a 29-yard touchdown for an early lead.
The defense then came up with the big play as Justin Kegler picked off a pass and raced 41 yards for one of two defensive scores, giving the Pack a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
As was the case throughout most of the playoff run, things would not come easy for the Pack with Killeen’s Marcus Carter scoring on a 25-yard run to narrow the gap to 14-7.
With time running out in the first half, a pair of future Big 12 players teamed up to give the Pack a two-score lead as McNeal hit Terrance Parks for an 18-yard score for a 21-7 lead. Parks, who was the starting quarterback for Lufkin in a run to the 2002 state semifinals, would eventually play for the Baylor Bears.
However, Killeen’s defense stood tall to keep Lufkin off balance for much of the second half. The Kangaroos trimmed the margin to 21-14 on a 16-yard touchdown run from Carter. Lufkin’s lead was cut to 21-20 on a long touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter. However, the extra point failed, leaving Lufkin with a slim lead.
The Panthers answered with a long run that was capped with a Terry Williams one-yard touchdown plunge, making it 27-20 after a missed extra point.
That left the door open for a potential Killeen comeback. However, McNeal slammed the door shut with his long interception return.
With the win, Lufkin wrapped up the first of two trips to Houston’s Astrodome.