Not much came easy for the Panthers in the 2001 playoffs. A little preview of what was to come came during a clash against Plano in the area round of the playoffs in Waco. Lufkin found itself in an early double-digit hole then had to hold off a late Plano rally to keep its state title hopes alive. The Panthers showed plenty of resiliency in a game in which it gave up a season-high 361 rushing yards and the defense was on the field for most of the game.
Outside of a second-quarter flurry in which it scored 21 points in less than five minutes, the Panthers’ offense only had a total of three points in the other 43 minutes. Despite all that, Lufkin found a way to come away with the win. Plano used its ground-it-out approach in the first half, taking a 10-0 lead on a short Rhett Morgan touchdown run in the second quarter. Lufkin’s dormant offensive attack got a spark from playmaker Quentin Holman, who made a 52-yard catch to set up a Reggie McNeal one-yard touchdown run that cut the margin to 10-7.
On the Panthers’ next drive, Plano got an up close look at McNeal’s game changing speed as he easily raced for a 75-yard touchdown run, giving the Pack a 14-10 lead. The Panthers got a quick stop to get the ball back to their offense and they took advantage with McNeal hitting Holman for a seven-yard score that made it 21-10 at the break. However, a tough Plano team wasn’t going to go down without a fight. It chipped away at the lead with a field goal then cut the margin to 21-19 on a Matt Forester 13-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Lufkin’s defense, which had its tough moments in the game, stood tall for a stop on the two-point conversion and the Panthers got some minimal breathing room with a Stephen Coker 23-yard field goal. The Panthers made one final stand to preserve an exciting win. With the win, Lufkin improved to 11-1 on the season and earned a spot in the regional semifinals against Killeen.