LONGVIEW - After two games and one quarter of struggling, the defense of Longview's football team has regained its resolve.
The Lobos held Lufkin scoreless for three quarters while the Longview offense scored 24 unanswered points in a 24-10 victory on Friday before 10,000 spectators which sold out Lobo Stadium. The Longview defense was especially tough in the second half, allowing just four first downs to previously undefeated Lufkin (3-1), the No. 10-ranked team in the Associated Press' Class 5A state poll.
Emphasis on tackling on the open field in practices this week paid off for Longview (3-1). Longview head coach John King said that work drove home the point of emphasis after his team had given up almost 1,000 yards of offense combined in the two previous weeks against John Tyler and Allen.
"I didn't have to browbeat them. They had heard enough," King said. "They had enough pride to know they had to play better and they did."
The outcome of the game was still in doubt until Longview marched 82 yards, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Tory White with 10:03 remaining to give Longview a 21-10 lead. The drive started with a 32-yard pass by Bivins Caraway to Deontre Wilson, which was set up by a pair big blocks by receivers D.T. Jackson and Eric Hawkins. White had a 27-yard run to set up his score.
Hawkins would have two receptions for 62 yards on Longview's last scoring drive, which was capped by a 25-yard field goal by Israel Madrid. Hawkins and Caraway had big games as Longview (3-1) uncommonly leaned on the pass more than the run. Hawkins had eight receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown while Caraway passed for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Longview finished with 151 yards rushing, but 127 came in the second half.
Lufkin had control of the game early, led by running back Jamarcus Walker, who broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run 8:49 left in the first quarter. Walker rushed for 112 yards on 12 carries in the first half, but was slowed down in the second half, finishing with 138 yards on 20 carries. The Panthers threatened to take command when linebacker Devon Hightower recovered a fumble by Longview running back J'Haston Faggans with 2:08 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive however, the Lobos started the momentum which carried them the rest of the game. Longview got a moral victory by knocking the Panthers back three yards, forcing Lufkin to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Luis Garcia.
The Lobos carried that momentum to the next play from scrimmage, when Caraway found Hawkins for a 66-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 left in the first quarter. Hawkins had five receptions in the first half for 105 yards. The Lobos also made a key stop with 7:09 left in the second quarter, as Stephan Maxey stopped Walker for no gain on a fourth-and-one play at the Longview 31-yard line.
"Holding them to a field goal was the turning point of the game," King said. "Our defense started to make adjustments and turned third-and-short plays to third and long."
The end of the first half had a reversal of fortune from the two previous Longview-Lufkin games.
Longview linebacker Torean Shepherd forced Lufkin quarterback Nick Cox to fumble and defensive end Larry Thomas advanced the loose ball nine yards to the Lufkin 22-yard line with 13 seconds remaining in the first half. This set up a 13-yard pass from Caraway to D.T. Jackson, who extended his feet into the endzone for a touchdown with one second remaining to give Longview a 14-10 halftime lead. In their last two games, both in Lufkin, the Panthers scored a touchdown with three seconds or less left in the first half en route to victories over the Lobos.'
Caraway was 10-for-19 for 171 yards passing in the first half. Standout Lufkin defensive lineman Tomme Mark, a probable FBS recruit, had two tackles for losses and a pass breakup in the first half. Mark finished with four tackles, three for losses.
Longview had four players with at least five tackles each, led by seven from Nakia Brown. Corey Bartley and Jordan Burton had six tackles each while DeMarkus Lathan had five tackles. D.J. Alexander and Demontrai Lewis had seven tackles each for Lufkin.
Longview linebacker Zaycoven Henderson was shaken up with 9:47 remaining in the game and was removed from the field on a stretcher.
Longview plays a non-district game against Abilene at 2 p.m. next Saturday at the Birdville Fine Arts and Activities Center in North Richland Hills. Longview's next home game is against North Mesquite on Oct. 21.