|LONGVIEW - Statistically, it's nearly a draw, but it's what on the scoreboard that counts.
Seven Longview turnovers, three of which were turned into points cost the Lobos a 24-6 decision to Lufkin Friday night at Lobo Stadium. The loss was Longview's first in District 13-5A.
Lufkin improves to 3-1 and improves its playoff chances. The Lobos, meanwhile, face a must-win situation Friday at Marshall.
"You can't make mistakes in a big ballgame like this. Turnovers and mistakes in a game like are magnified," noted a dejected Longview head coach Robert Bero. "We certainly didn't help ourselves tonight."
Longview suffered through four fumbles and three interceptions.
The Lobos didn't get on the scoreboard until they trailed by a count of 24-0. Quarterback Shawn Lawson concluded an 88-yard, 14-play drive with 7:57 left in the contest. The drive consumed 9:50 off the clock.
Longview did come up with a successful onside kick, but was held on a fourth down play at the Panther 47.
Bero pointed to two second quarter fumbles as the turning point of the contest. The Lobos were able to move the ball offensively, but the miscues came in their end of the field allowing Lufkin to take a 9-0 lead at halftime.
"I thought we came out ready to play, both offensively and defensively. We did some good things, but the two mistakes late in the second quarter hurt us," Bero said.
Statistically, Longview out gained the Panthers in total yards, 238-213, and first downs, 19-12.
Also, Longview tailback Earnest Hunter continued his 100-yard game streak going for the fourth straight game. He has now rushed for 696 yards on the season, one-yard short of his season high in 1987.
The Lobo defense, meanwhile, stymied Lufkin halfback Eric Curl to under 100 yards for the first time this season. He was limited to 68 on 19 carries and no touchdowns.
"You can't do those kind of things in a big football game. If we'd done the same thing we'd have lost the football," offered Lufkin mentor Pat Culpepper. "I felt going in we had a better kicking game."
The Panther punter Sam Baldwin averaged 37.8 yards to help keep the Lobo offense off-balanced.
Leading 9-0, Curl's backfield mate Mcihael Carroll put the game away with two third quarter touchdowns. He lunged across from two and one yards.
Carroll's first score came after a Shawn Lawson fumble. The 170-pound senior then scored at the 9:56 mark.
A pass from quarterback Scott Berger to wide receiver Glen Kimble for 24 yards set Lufkin at the Longview 5 on its first play from scrimmage.
The Panther final points concluded a 56-yard drive in 8-plays before Carroll broke the plane with 4:27 showing.
Longview went into the dressing room on the short end of a 9-0 deficit as the Panthers benefited from the two early crucial miscues to put nine points on the scoreboard.
The Lobos actually lost the handle four times, the first recovering their own mistake, and the second stiffing the Panthers on defense.
Lufkin also picked off a Shawn Lawson pass in the waning seconds of the half. But the two costly fumbles occurred deep in Longview's end of the field.
The first Panther points followed a turnover at the Longview 12. Pinned deep in its own territory after a clipping call on the preceding kickoff. Reggie Adams mishandled a handoff and defensive end Jerimie Phillips recovered for the visitors.
The Longview defense, which had been frustrating Lufkin in the first quarter and early second, stiffened again and kept the Panthers out of the end zone. But kicker John Carter came in and booted a 28-yard field goal with 4:33 to play in the second quarter.
One series later, Lufkin was presented with another short range scoring opportunity as punter David Hill couldn't handle a deep snap and linebacker Scott Varga recovered at the 16.
The Panthers moved the ball to the five, with a first-and-goal. However, Longview tightened, forcing Lufkin into a fourth down situation.
Electing to go for it, Berger rolled for the left on a keeper, eluding a diving Otis Reese, to put another six points on the scoreboard. However, Carter's point-after sailed wide left and Lufkin led 9-0.
Longview, now 3-1, 4-2 overall, travels to Marshall, while Lufkin visits Tyler Lee next Friday night.