On a night in which the Lufkin Panthers gave up 807 total yards of offense, they still found themselves a single play away from coming up with a crucial win in District 12-6A action.
Beaumont West Brook QB L’Ravien Elia had other plans. After torching the Panthers’ defense the entire night, he made the biggest play when it mattered most, escaping for a 35-yard touchdown with 29 seconds remaining to seal a 70-63 win at Lufkin’s John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium on Friday night.
Elia finished the night with 557 total yards of offense to go along with seven touchdowns. But the final play proved to be the punch the Panthers couldn’t counter.
“It’s not what we’re looking for,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “The kids played to the end but that’s not what we wanted. We have to make plays and we’re not making them when we need to.”
Elia finished the night with 305 yards and five touchdowns through the air, completing 15-of-22 passes. He added 252 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 27 carries.
He had plenty of help from James Denley, who caught six passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
Kandin Robertson added 195 yards and three touchdowns on eight receptions.
Those fireworks overshadowed another special night from the Lufkin offense that put up 669 total yards of offense to go along with 63 points.
Kordell Rodgers did the bulk of the damage, throwing for 385 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-42 passing. He added 132 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Dhailon Phillips added 151 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, while Malik Jackson had 125 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
As has been the case for most of the season, Lufkin’s offense held its end of the bargain in the first half by having every answer for an explosive West Brook offense.
The Panthers out-gained West Brook 393-381 despite holding the ball for only 8:44 in the first 24 minutes.
Lufkin’s offense was held to a rare three and out on the first drive before West Brook took just two plays to get on the board just 1:11 into the game.
After Lufkin made a stop on the first play, West Brook QB Marcus Johnson lateraled to Damon Ward, who hit a wide open Kandin Robertson for a 60-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
The Panthers had a quick answer three plays later when Rodgers hit Jackson for a 49-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7.
West Brook then drove the length of the field before the Panthers’ defense came up with a goal line stand.
However, that just prolonged the eventual go-ahead touchdown when Lufkin went three and out on the following drive.
The Bruins took advantage with James Denley scoring on a one-yard run that gave the Bruins a 14-7 lead. That play was set up by Robertson’s 43-yard catch from Elia L’Ravien.
The Panthers answered six plays later when Kahlil Brown powered his way in for a six-yard touchdown run that knotted the game at 14-14.
West Brook answered with an 11-play, 79-yard drive that was capped by Denley’s second touchdown of the night, this one from two yards out, giving the Bruins their third lead of the game at 21-14.
The Panthers once again used the big play to tie the game with Phillips getting behind the West Brook defense before breaking a tackle at the 5-yard line on his way to a 64-yard touchdown strike from Rodgers that made it 21-21 with 9:54 left in the first half.
West Brook answered with a big play of its own with Bralin Simon catching a 26-yard touchdown pass from Elia for a 28-21 lead.
The Panthers tied the game up for the fourth time with Jackson’s 50-yard reception setting up a Brown one-yard touchdown that made it 28-28 with 6:51 left in the half.
Lufkin’s defense then made a stop near midfield and the offense took advantage by putting together an 11-play, 68-yard drive that was capped by a Rodgers four-yard touchdown run for the Panthers’ first lead of the game at 35-28.
In the opening half, Rodgers threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-16 passing. Jackson had three catches for 113 yards and Phillips had four receptions for 96 yards.
Elia threw for 153 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 77 yards to lead the West Brook offense. Robertson added five receptions for 144 yards before the break.
Each team came up with a defensive stop to start the second half, West Brook used a short field to tie the game on a 19-yard pass from Elia to Denley.
Lufkin didn’t take long to answer as Jamel Richemond made a nice catch for a 23-yard touchdown that put the Panthers on top 42-35 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
That lead didn’t last long with Elia connecting with Robertson on a 17-yard touchdown pass to knot the game up at 42-42 with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers answered with a 10-play, 66-yard drive that was capped by a Tre Grant two-yard touchdown run on fourth down for a 49-42 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
West Brook took just two plays to tie it up as Denley took a short pass from Elia before making a pair of Lufkin defenders miss and racing 80 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 49-49.
After Lufkin was forced to punt, West Brook’s Elia did the damage by himself, taking off for a 54-yard touchdown that gave the Bruins the lead for the fifth time at 56-49 with 8:47 left in the game.
The teams continued to go back and forth with Rodgers scoring on a five-yard run that tied the game at 56-56 with 5:57 left in the game.
The fireworks continued on the following drive with Robertson taking a screen pass from Elia and running around the Lufkin defense for a 22-yard score. However, the extra point was missed, leaving West Brook with a 62-56 lead with 3:32 left in the game.
Lufkin’s offense held with Grant breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and racing 39 yards for a 63-62 lead with 2:25 left in the game.
But West Brook had one last bullet in its chamber with Elia making a Lufkin defender miss before running in for a 35-yard score with 29 seconds left. He then added the two-point conversion to make it 70-63.
The Panthers had one final shot before a Hail Mary slipped just out of Philips’ hands.
The Panthers will travel to Oak Ridge on Friday night.