Lufkin Drops Season Opener

A 97-yard Keilyn Williams’ kickoff return for a touchdown on the first play of the season left the Lufkin Panthers reeling just seconds into their first game of 2017. A dominating second half by the Longview Lobos was the knockout punch as the Panthers dropped a 35-16 decision in Longview Friday night.

Jessie Anderson ran for 123 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and the Lobos’ defense dominated the last 18 minutes of the game in sending the Panthers to a blowout loss.

“We didn’t play very good,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “I’m embarrassed by the way we played. It looked like we weren’t coached and that’s my responsibility.”

Lufkin got a big night from Isaiah Phillips, who ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, but it wasn’t nearly enough in a game where the Panthers trailed by just three points with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

“He competed hard tonight,” Quick said. “I was proud of him.”

Kewone Thomas, making his first start for the Panthers, finished with 156 yards on 16-of-33 passing with one interception. Ja’Lynn Polk had five catches for 77 yards and Malik Jackson had seven catches for 42 yards.

The Panthers put themselves in an early hole in the first seconds when Keilyn Williams took the opening kickoff and sprinted 97 yards for a touchdown, giving the Lobos a 7-0 lead 14 seconds into the game.

Lufkin’s offense opened with a precise touchdown drive of its own with Phillips taking a pitch and making a defender miss before running in for a 24-yard touchdown run.

It was the perfect cap for a drive that saw him carry five times for 45 yards as the Panthers knotted the game at 7-7 with 8:27 left in the first quarter.

The defenses took over from there with the Panthers holding Longview in check over the next quarter while the Lobos had plenty of hits of their own and also ended a Lufkin scoring threat with a Jalen Carr interception off a tipped pass.

After going to the air for much of the first half, Longview went to its usual ground and pound game on its final drive of the second quarter, going 67 yards on 11 plays with 10 of those plays on the ground. A’darius Carter, seeing his first time at quarterback in the game, finished the drive with a four-yard run that put the Lobos on top 14-7 with 1:56 left in the first half.

Lufkin drove past midfield on the final drive of the half before Longview’s defense came up with a stop.

In the first half, the two teams combined for a total of 306 total yards of offense.

Phillips led Lufkin with 73 yards and a touchdown on eight carries while Longview’s Jessie Anderson had 69 yards on 10 carries in the first half.

Each team struggled through the air with Lufkin’s Kewone Thomas held to 68 yards and an interception on 7-of-18 passing while Longview combined for a total of 31 yards on 13 attempts.

In the second half, Lufkin appeared poised to tie the game on the opening drive when it went 73 yards on 18 plays, running the ball on 16 of those snaps. However, Lufkin’s offense stalled at the 2-yard line and the Pack settled for a Rodrigo Molina 19-yard field goal, making it 14-10 with 4:26 left in the third quarter.

That seemed to be the boost Longview needed as it rolled off 21 straight points in a nine-minute span that slammed the door on the Pack.

On Longview’s next drive, Lufkin had Williams bottled up in the backfield before he broke loose for a 58-yard run. Carter finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run that extended the margin to 21-10.

After a Lufkin turnover on downs, Longview needed just two plays to get back on the board with Anderson scoring on a 33-yard run that made it 28-10 on the final play of the third quarter.

That lead grew to 35-10 when sophomore QB Haynes King hit Kamden Perry for a 48-yard touchdown that made it 35-10.

Lufkin got one final score with 1:34 remaining when Isaiah Phillips scored on a three-yard touchdown run, making the final 35-16.

Lufkin (0-1) will be back in action on Friday night when it takes on Nacogdoches in the home opener set for a 7:30 kickoff.

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